Oak Cliff 12-year-old describes experiencing gas explosion years ago: 'I was barely able to walk'

Oak Cliff - If Pablo Mendez seems wise beyond his years, it may be because, at 12 years old, he's experienced more pain than most.  "I wouldn't have gotten out if it wasn't for my dad. If it wasn't for him, I would have still been in the house, still struggling," he said.

Pablo was just five years old when his home in Oak Cliff exploded due to a leak in an aging cast iron Atmos gas line in 2011. He and his parents suffered multiple injuries, including third degree burns. The impact threw his mother into the air.

They were hospitalized for weeks. But Pablo knows it could have been even worse.

"One second it was (my dad) turning on the lights, the next second, it was me just trying to climb out, risking everything, me trying to climb out with my life," said Pablo.

Pablo remembers his father, helping him out of the house when his shirt got stuck on a hook.

Now in fifth grade, Pablo says the first few months, were the hardest.blast

"I couldn't really do much, I couldn't go outside much, because (the doctors) didn't want the skin more burnt," he said. "A couple of months, I was barely able to walk."

Pipes WFAA investigated and learned the cast iron pipes from the 40's and 50's, had a legacy of failing and corroding. The Mendez family sued Atmos, and the gas company agreed to replace aging cast iron lines in areas throughout the city.

Now, seven years later, seeing another family's home explode, this time in Northwest Dallas, brings back painful memories. Michellita Rogers died inside the home on Espanola Drive. She was 12 - Pablo's age.

The NTSB says investigators found a leak in a gas line leading into her home.

Atmos shut off gas for 2,800 homes and businesses in the area, in order to replace nearly 30 miles of gas lines after finding multiple leaks.

"It makes you angry because people are getting hurt, just because they (Atmos) won't go out there and do what they've got do," said Pablo's father, Domingo

"They wait until something bad happens and then try and go fix it," said Pablo. "I feel kind of disappointed."

The Mendez family rebuilt the home that exploded. It's a detached apartment behind the home where Pablo's grandparents live.

"This area does bring back memories," said Domingo Mendez, as he showed News 8 the home.

The family now lives in another home nearby. They made sure the home only has electric appliances.

They say they sometimes still get flashbacks and nightmares. The explosion is still painful to talk about.

But seven years later, they're moving forward. Pablo's mother, Juliana is pregnant with a little boy.

Source: WFAA

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