West continues healing at memorial service for those lost in explosion

Posted at 8:40 PM, Apr 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-18 00:09:53-04

Monday night, dozens in the West community gathered at St Mary's of West to remember the explosion of the West Fertilizer Plant that claimed 15 lives and touched every corner of the community.

They took a moment of silence at 7:51 pm, the moment the community was rocked by the blast. Bells rang out, piercing the silence in the church.

Family members and friends of first responders who died in the explosion attended the service. Whitney Fire Chief Wayland Price said he thinks about that April night every day. 

"Even though I'm not from West, I lost some friends, some firefighter friends, that night in the explosion."

Chief Price said it was important for Whitney and the community to be there for West that night and the years that followed.

"There is love and support from outside the West community. It could have happened to any of us that night, and we'd want the same thing love and support," Price said.

As the service reflected on those lost that fateful night, faith leaders took the time to acknowledge the city's growth and healing.

Pastor Terry McElrath spoke at the memorial Monday but also experienced damage from the explosion firsthand.

"We had our windows blown out; we had damage to our house. It took 14 months to get it fixed, but we considered ourselves fortunate compared to what others lost."

This is the fourth year the memorial service took place. Faith leaders said it's an important tradition that keeps them grounded in faith

"Well, we've seen God do so much that first remembrance at the West Fair Grounds... We got the sense that god was with us the entire affair."

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