Politics & Government

Teen earthquake survivor ‘hanging in there’

Nick Dillon said he is “hanging in there” after a nine-hour surgery for injuries to his pelvis that he suffered during Sunday’s earthquake in Napa.

Dillon, 13, who is being treated at UC Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, was hit in the back by bricks from the family’s chimney.

“I’m still a little scared,” he said. “I really don’t know what to expect. Either way, I’m going to stay on top of things.”

Dillon said he remembers the entire morning of the earthquake.

“I don’t want to remember what happened, but at the same time it’s going to be with me for the rest of my life,” he said. “I can’t change it.”

The high school freshman had a schoolmate over for a sleepover. The boys were sleeping in the living room, with Dillon’s mattress near the chimney. Dillon said he woke up to the first jolt of the 6.0 earthquake that struck about 3:20 a.m. Sunday.

He yelled his friend’s name, woke him and directed him to safety. The chimney toppled on Dillon seconds later.

“I started crawling to get to the door, and as soon as I put my right knee on the floor the chimney collapsed on my back,” Dillon said. “Then I stumbled a little forward on the floor and I was laying there during the earthquake, and I was screaming for my mom and she fell twice trying to get to me.”

Dillon said he was unable to walk after being struck by bricks, and crawled away from the chimney.

“I thought I was paralyzed – I couldn’t feel my legs, I couldn’t feel my back,” said Dillon, who is expected to be in a wheelchair for about five to six months.

He had an initial moment of panic, but tried to stay positive as he waited for paramedics.

He enjoyed the view from the helicopter that transported him from Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa to the UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

“It was calm. I was expecting it to hurt a lot, but it was awesome. I liked it,” Dillon said about the trip.

He considers himself lucky to be alive, as his head was directly under the chimney while he was sleeping, before the shakes from the early morning earthquake startled him awake.

“If I hadn’t moved, I’m telling you, I shouldn’t be here right now,” Dillon said. “I should be dead.”

Dillon is grateful for the support from his family, friends and the emergency responders who saved his life.

“I can’t describe how thankful I am,” Dillon said. “I was in tears last night, a little bit, looking at the news and stuff.”

He wants to remind Napa residents that it can “get through this together as a community” and that he will push through this setback.

“I’m going to be fine,” Dillon said. “It’s going to hurt. The recovery is going be a long recovery, but I’m going to be OK.”

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