Neighbors, family friends supporting those affected by house explosion that claimed two lives

Local News

RAPATEE, Ill.–Friends and family are mourning two people killed in a house explosion in the Knox County community of Rapatee.

Neighbors and family members are coming together to help out the affected family after the explosion that happened late Sunday morning and were working all day Monday to pick up debris, not only in the house’s yard but also in multiple neighbors’ yards and in the street.

Tuesday, Knox County Sheriff David Clague identified the victims as Wanda Swain, who was 77, and her son David Swain Jr., who was 51. 

Neighbors say the explosion was devastating, but that the community won’t let those affected go through this alone.

“I’ve known them for over 30 years. Because my mom used to bring us out here every summer as kids, and I’d play with her daughter.  It’s just heartbreaking,” said long-time family friend Jolene.

“I feel sad for the family.  It’s going to leave Dave pretty lonely. He’s the preacher over there and he was preaching yesterday when the blast happened,” said long-time family friend Carl Bock.

The son’s body was located northwest of the residence, while Wanda’s was located to the south of the residence, Clague said. Both bodies were removed by Knox County Coroner Mark Thomas.

Jolene moved to the area from California, and she says it reminded her of large tremors she experienced back home.

“When it hit, it felt like a California earthquake.  It threw you up in the air, it dropped you down, at least at my house. But there was not shake or rumble,” Jolene said.

Bock says he contacted his family letting them know what happened, and it hit them really hard.

“I called my children last night and spread the word to them, and they were pretty well devastated by it,” Bock said.

But Jolene believes the town will come together and not let the family go through this by themselves.

“Knowing us, we’ll rally together and get things back to normal and help those who need the help and for those who just wanna move on. But at least get our community back to where it was,” Jolene said.

The explosion is still under investigation by the sheriff’s office. Clague said there is no indication of any criminal activity leading up to the explosion, and that it is believed to be accidental. 

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