Napa boy upgraded to fair condition after quake chimney collapse

08/25/2014 6:55 PM

10/08/2014 12:15 PM

On Sunday, Nicholas Dillon, 13, survived an earthquake and a torrent of crashing bricks in his family’s Napa home. On Monday, he sent his aunt out to meet the press – just to let his pals, and the world, know that he is OK.

And, oh yeah, he says that helicopter ride to the UC Davis Medical Center was awesome.

“It was a really cool ride,” said Dillon’s aunt, Carmen Rosales, 30. “Half of the helicopter was glass and he could see out.”

Leave it to a 13-year-old – a kid who lives for playing video games, soccer and African drums – to turn a near-death experience into a spin at the carnival.

Only a day ago, Dillon was in critical condition after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Napa Valley, collapsing a chimney into his living room as he was sleeping on a mattress below.

Dillon had moved his mattress into the room for a sleepover with a teenage buddy. The two sat up playing video games and watching television. Dillon fell asleep with his head directly beneath the chimney. Sprung awake by shaking at 3:20 a.m., he lurched around into a crawl, heading toward the couch and calling out his friend’s name.

Then the chimney came down, bricks blasting onto his back. The lights went out. His pelvis fractured in multiple places, he slithered from the fallen debris in searing pain, screaming for help.

His mother, Katrina Dillon, and older brother, Joseph Dillon, made their way through the darkness with flashlights to find him.

He was airlifted from Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa to UC Davis. There, his aunt said, Dillon underwent nine hours of “very intense” emergency surgery to repair his severely damaged pelvis.

He was upgraded to fair condition Monday, but faces a lengthy recovery – and likely five months in a wheelchair, Rosales said.

“We’re very grateful that it was not worse than it was,” she said.

Nicholas, starting his freshman year at New Technology High School in Napa, was looking forward to telling his story himself.

“He is just an energetic, vivacious and outgoing young man,” Rosales said of the nephew she calls “Nicky.” “He just wants people to know a little bit about him because he’s a teenager and he wants his name out there.”

But the doctors said Nicholas couldn’t meet Monday with reporters because he had a fever. So it was up to his aunt to deliver the lesson he wanted imparted.

“If I’ve learned anything from this,” Nicholas told her, “it’s that I’m never going to sleep near a fireplace again.”

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