Randy Hedden, 76, and his wife, Bonnie Hedden, 71, lost their home on Joliet’s east side to an explosion Aug. 16 and are busy trying to recover their health and their lives.
Caryn Genens of Joliet, Randy’s brother, feels the couple is making the best of it.
“They’re both staying in a motel,” Genens said. “They’re working at the house, trying to find the things they need for their lives. Neither one of them is really healthy right now. They just feel they have to get it done.”
Genens said money is really the couple’s biggest need, especially since they are retired and live on a fixed income.
“It would be nice if they could find an apartment,” she said.
Genens’ daughter Leah Genens started a GoFundMe page Aug. 19. The goal is $50,000, but only $8,600 has been raised a month later.
The investigation into the cause of the explosion is still continuing, Illinois State Fire Marshal spokesperson JC Fultz said Tuesday.
Kathy Hoffmeyer, spokesperson for the Will County Sheriff’s Office, said in an Aug. 19 Herald-News story that neighbors told deputies they smelled "something like gunpowder" after the explosion.
Other neighbors told of hearing an electrical crackling prior to the blast, Hoffmeyer said.
In the aftermath of the explosion, Nicor workers were on the scene to look for gas leaks, Hoffmeyer said.
In the same story, Genens said she’d heard the black powder was not the source of the explosion. The powder was enclosed and still in its container, she said.
Genens said both Randy and Bonnie had cuts, bruises and scrapes due to the explosion. Bonnie had a cut artery in one arm, which required surgery.
Gary Heiden, who lives two blocks from the home and owns H& R Pump Co., Inc. at 2111 E. Washington St. in Joliet, said in the same story that Randy was buried up to his chest in the rubble.
Randy was released from the hospital Aug. 19, the story said.
Bonnie remained in the intensive care unit until Aug. 20. By Aug. 28, she was out of the hospital and receiving home health care, the GoFundMe page said.
The Heddens were married in 1965 and just celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary in June. They are former antique dealers and Randy’s Facebook page said he is a “proud member” of the American Mountain Men.
On Aug. 23, Leah wrote on the GoFundMe page, “My mom and uncle have been able to go to the house site [and] remove and bury one of the cats as well.”
Donate to the Randy & Bonnie Hedden relief fund at bit.ly/34emBla.