Gophers tight end Lincoln Plsek is from West, Texas, where a fertilizer plant exploded Wednesday night.
Gophers tight end Lincoln Plsek said his hometown of West, Texas, is the kind of place where “everyone knows everybody.”
So when a friend texted him Wednesday night, asking if his parents and younger brothers were OK, Plsek thought the friend just wanted to get caught up.
Plsek soon realized the town of 2,800 people had experienced tragedy, when a fertilizer plant exploded into a mushroom cloud, leveling nearby homes.
Knowing his family lives about two miles from the plant, Plsek frantically texted his mother, grandparents and friends, making sure everyone was OK. The texts didn’t immediately get through to his mother, but within an hour, she assured him his immediate family was safe.
Plsek later learned that a distant relative was killed in the blast.
“When something like that happens, you don’t expect it to be in your hometown, especially a town of [2,800] people, and it was just a shocking feeling,” Plsek said. “My heart goes out to the families and everyone who lost lives and was injured.”
As of Thursday night, the death toll was unknown, as rescuers searched for survivors in the smoldering ruins. Dozens were feared to have died from the blast.
Plsek’s mother, Jennifer, had a summer job at the fertilization plant when she was in high school. Her mom’s side of the family has multiple farmers who do business with the plant. But the Plseks didn’t suspect an explosion when they first heard and felt the blast.
“We were at home, kind of relaxing,” Jennifer Plsek said. “We’d heard reports that there were supposed to be storms. All of a sudden, we heard a real loud boom. We heard our house shake and we saw this large cloud of smoke, like you see on TV, those nuclear bomb-shaped clouds.”
The family evacuated their home for the night. Meanwhile, Lincoln Plsek spent a sleepless night following the television coverage. The footage of the explosion itself was especially hard for him to stomach.
“I watched one time and couldn’t watch it again,” he said. “It was too disturbing.”
During the hour when he couldn’t reach his family, Plsek thought specifically about his two youngest brothers.
“They have friends in that area, and I was just praying that they weren’t over there playing,” Plsek said, with his voice cracking.
By Thursday afternoon, it was time to focus on football. Tight ends are an important part of the Gophers offense, and Plsek played in eight games last season as a true freshman.
“I told myself I was going to dedicate this practice to everyone who got hurt, and everyone who died,” he said.
Plsek also spoke to the Gophers staff about returning home to help with reconstruction efforts.
“Obviously, I want to go down there and help so bad,” he said. “But it might be the best decision to stay up here, wait it out, and when I get home in a month after finals, I can volunteer to help rebuild.”
Coach Jerry Kill spoke with Plsek before practice.
|Atlanta||0||Top 6th Inning|
|Houston||4||Top 6th Inning|
|NY Mets||1||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Pittsburgh||0||Top 5th Inning|
|Miami||4||Top 6th Inning|
|Baltimore||0||Bottom 5th Inning|
|Boston||4||Bottom 5th Inning|
|NY Yankees||1||Top 7th Inning|
|Chicago WSox||3:05 PM|
|Kansas City||3:05 PM|
|San Francisco||8:05 PM|
|LA Lakers||8:30 PM|
|San Jose||6:00 PM|
|NY Rangers||7:00 PM|
|Texas A&M||57||2nd Half 4:39|
|Houston||62||2nd Half 2:33|
|Alcorn State||27||2nd Half 16:58|
|Purdue||13||1st Half 11:17|
|Fordham||12||1st Half 12:16|
|St Johns||8||1st Half 14:33|
|Wake Forest||2||1st Half 16:45|
|Cal Poly||2:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara|
|Oklahoma State||2:00 PM|
|Utah State||2:00 PM|
|San Diego St|
|TX-Pan American||2:00 PM|
|Utah Valley U|
|South Carolina||2:25 PM|
|Sacramento St||3:05 PM|
|Old Dominion||3:30 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton||4:30 PM|
|Long Beach State|
|Florida A&M||5:00 PM|
|Penn State||5:30 PM|
|Northern Colorado||5:30 PM|
|Savannah State||7:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||7:00 PM|
|Oral Roberts||7:30 PM|
|Sam Houston St|
|Alabama A&M||8:00 PM|
|Eastern Mich||8:00 PM|
|UC Riverside||8:00 PM|
|Georgia Tech||8:00 PM|
|Rhode Island||8:00 PM|
|Portland State||8:00 PM|
|Fresno State||8:00 PM|
|Miss State||8:25 PM|
|West Virginia||8:30 PM|
|Boise State||10:30 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||37|
|McNeese State||28||1st Half 7:56|
|Toledo||20||1st Half 8:16|
|Savannah State||18||1st Half 9:38|
|Sacramento St||2:30 PM|
|Montana State||5:00 PM|
|Alabama State||5:30 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||6:00 PM|
|Southern Ill||7:07 PM|
|Idaho State||7:30 PM|
|Old Dominion||8:30 PM|
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