HUNTINGDON, HUNTINGDON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — There are some days you’ll never forget. For the Huntingdon County community, October 19, 2020 is one of them.
“Everyone will tell you what they were doing, what they heard, the stories,” Michele Shovlin, whose house exploded last year while she was still inside, said. “I remember looking and just seeing a big poof like you see in the movies.”
A scene you only see in the movies becomes Shovlin’s reality.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, it blew up,'” Shovlin explained. “The next thing I know I was lying face down in the basement door and covered in debris. I turned and saw flames and I touched my head and I realized my hair was gone.”
One year later, Shovlin reflects. It’s emotional, as you can imagine. A day so horrific many wonder how she’s even living to tell her story.
“I have grandkids that call me wonder woman,” Shovlin smiled. “Because to them, to come out of something like that, it’s pretty amazing.”
What started as a normal morning turned into the unimaginable.
Michele’s house explodes while she is in the basement getting a sweater from the laundry. She gets stuck and can’t see anything in front of her as the flames quickly approach.
“My time was running out and I knew I had to get out of there,” Shovlin said.
At that moment she told herself she was going to see another day, no matter what.
“I said, ‘I am not going to die in this basement like I am in hell,” Shovlin explained. “I stood up and I thought I have to scream as loud as I can so someone can hear me. I screamed help me and then I took a breath and I would do it again the whole time as loud as I could.”
“So I yelled back,” John Eastman, Shovlin’s neighbor said. “She heard my voice and she was starting to climb out from the basement.”
Neighbors John Eastman and Christopher Wencker hear her screams for help. They jumped into the flames to help pull Shovlin out.
“I’m just thankful that I was able to be here and help out to tell you the truth,” Eastman said with Michele standing by his side.
“He’s a hero,” Michele continued. “Because a lot of people didn’t come to help me. They stood and watched, but John, John came.”
If it wasn’t for those two men, Shovlin doesn’t know if she would have lived to see another day.
“I will never ever be able to repay them for what they have done for me and my kids,” Shovlin said.
Shovlin’s road to recovery has been anything but easy.
“I was in an induced coma for most of it because of the skin grafts,” she said. “At one point I had gone into cardiac arrest.”
Almost 50% of her body was burnt with 3rd degree burns, she had skin grafts front and back, her lungs are scarred and she is continuing to recover today, but she’s here.
“When the sun is shining bright, you know, I’m happy,” Shovlin said. “I cry a lot because I probably shouldn’t have been here to see all of this.”
Here to see her daily blessings, like her beautiful family who stood by her side day in and day out as she fought for her life.
“I get to see my grandkids get bigger,” Shovlin expressed. “I get to watch my daughters and everything they get to do with their life.”
After spending two months in the hospital, the community welcomed Shovlin home with a parade.
“I was so overwhelmed with everything that the community did for me and for my family,” she said.
This story has many layers. It’s one of bravery. One of community. One of strength. It inspires us all to appreciate every day we’re given.
“Sure the medical staff and all those people did wonderful work,” Eastman explained. “But there is also God’s grace in this thing, which I think is important.”
So many lives that day were changed forever.
“I was covered by angels that day,” Shovlin said.
As the healing process continues, Shovlin’s story and her fighting spirit is nothing short of a miracle.
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