7 People Were Injured In Blast; Utility Eyes Problem With Gas Main

SOUTH NYACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two survivors of Tuesday’s explosion at Nyack College in Rockland County have spoken out about their experience and the lingering trauma of the incident.

“I’m glad to be alive,” blast victim Tasha Bastone told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Bastone remained hospitalized at Westchester Medical Center on Thursday, two days after the jarring explosion ripped through the building she was in at the small Christian college.

The 38-year-old graduate student from Laurelton, Queens said there was a smell of gas beforehand, but nothing to hint at the approaching danger.

“I was just working on my schoolwork,” Bastone told Young. “An explosion. That’s all I remember.”

“Like an earthquake bomb. It felt like that,” Bastone added.

The apparent cause of the explosion was a natural gas leak along the line on campus that backed up into the basement of Sky Island Lodge, the old converted carriage house turned school building.

The damage on the lower levels of the 1920s-era building is intense, Young reported. Inside, structural columns have moved and the stairs shifted.

Academic adviser Elaina Murphy said the floor jumped under her feet and the very air seemed suddenly dangerous.

“Just pressure. My ears were ringing, my eyes were burning,” Murphy told Young. “There was just that sense of ‘we got to get out of here.'”

Four of the victims found a fire escape, while three others went out a window. The victims suffered burns, shrapnel wounds and broken bones.

There was nobody on the badly damaged lower floors.

“I am grateful to God that nobody was down there. I mean, he really had his protection on us. We were all on the second floor. We were right where we needed to be,” Murphy said.

Bastone was the most seriously injured of the seven victims. As of Thursday she had undergone one operation to repair her shattered leg, which was injured when she jumped from the second floor.

Meanwhile, investigators were still trying to track down the exact cause of the gas main leak, eyeing construction work on campus as a possible explanation, Young reported.

A spokesman for Orange & Rockland Utilities said investigators are now focusing in on a section of gas main a little more than 300 feet from the blast site.

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