Off-duty deputy aids in rescue efforts at Minnehaha Academy explosion

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As fate would have it, there were those who ran from disaster and those who ran right into it Wednesday morning.

A Ramsey County deputy was at home when he witnessed the explosion across the street at Minnehaha Academy. So, he ran to help.

“It was just like a sonic boom, and I looked and saw kids in the soccer field screaming and running,” Deputy Paul Meskan said. “All I saw was a cloud in the air and took off running, got over there, and a couple workers were in obvious shock and bloodied and screaming that there were people trapped…a couple other people came and we found one guy who was pinned under the wall. We started digging it apart and Minneapolis police showed up, and between them and us we kept digging, and fire and medics arrived.”

Meskan said by the time he reached the scene, there weren’t any flames, “but you could really smell the gas.”

Then, the flames picked up again “and we were saying, ‘we gotta get this guy out of here,’ and people are yelling, ‘there’s gas, we gotta get out,’ and it’s like, we can get him out, he’s not conscious but he’s breathing, he’s got a heartbeat, he’s got oxygen flowing…he’s got a chance,” he said.

According to the deputy, his group broke the wall apart until they could pull the man out and put him on the stretcher.

Counselor Kristin Overton was in the building next to the explosion. Seven months pregnant, she and a student managed to escape.

"I heard screaming when I ran out of the building," she said. "I'm still in shock."

Overton said she was working with a student when someone came in and said there's a gas leak.

"As soon as they said that, the wall collapsed," she said.

In the gym next door, seven members of the girls basketball team were practicing.

"I think it really hit me when I saw's my baby," said Lisa Barth about her daughter, who made it out safely.