Burn victims recovering, one year later - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Burn victims recovering, one year later


Three men's lives changed instantly, one year ago, after an explosion happened while they were working in a basement near Peosta.

Adam Conrad, his brother Scott Conrad and Brad Mahoney, now 29, 25 and 19, respectively, were working construction in a basement, when fumes built up and ignited.

The explosion left each man with third-degree burns on more than half of his body.

On Tuesday, the three men gathered at the Conrads' parents' home in Delhi to talk about the past year and future plans.

The Conrads and Mahoney will never forget August 3, 2010.

"My first reaction was: run. You know, fight or flight," Adam Conrad said. "And as I was running, the fire was getting hotter."

The three men have the scars as proof of the ordeal.

"We did everything by the book, we'd done it before," Mahoney said. "There was just no way of telling what was going to happen when we woke up that morning."

Since then, the three men have come a long way.

"Now I can make my own food, so I don't have to rely on anybody else to do that," Scott Conrad said. "I mean, those are big steps that don't seem big to everybody else, but they were to us."

"Fine motor skills is the hardest part for me right now, and that's why I'm hoping with the surgery and the therapy, that all that gets better," the older Conrad brother said.

Some of the most painful scars, however, are those people can't see.

"Accepting the scars is one of the biggest hurdles that I've come across," Mahoney said. "Jones County Fair, I had some kid come up to me and ask me why I was so dirty. I mean, he said it looked like I was covered in mud. I mean, that was, I just didn't know what to say to him."

When it comes to physical healing, all three men said their hands are the greatest challenge.

"I mean, all scarred up, they don't work the same," Mahoney said.

"Can't open cans of pop," Scott Conrad said. "It's just kind of hard, when you want to be so independent on your own that sometimes you need the help."

Despite this, both of the Conrad brothers are using their hands to work on their own houses.

"It's coming good," Adam Conrad said, of his house. "Everyone's been coming to help me. The electricity, the fans are getting up, paint's getting on the walls."

"We started it before the accident so we had to finish it sometime," the younger Conrad said.

Mahoney is facing an adventure all his own.

"I'm probably going to go for mass comm," Mahoney said, as he discussed what he wants to study at Western Washington University. He starts there in September.

He said he's "Looking forward to making some new friends and just getting on with my life."

The anniversary of that fateful moment is certainly a day to look back, but it's also a day for moving on.

"That explosion took a year of our lives and that's all it's going to get," Mahoney said.

He finished his final required visit to the burn unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on Tuesday.

The brothers are continuing physical therapy, but they said it helps going through it together.

All three of the men thanked the doctors and nurses at the burn unit for their superb care throughout the past year. They also thanked the first responders, who rushed to the scene that day.

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