Blast Victim In ‘Critical’ Condition

On January 12, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

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Blast Victim In ‘Critical’ Condition

KTIV photo of rural homeWe have a clearer picture of the injuries a western Iowa man suffered when his house exploded, Tuesday afternoon.

The Monona County Sheriffs Department says 80-year-old Earl Thelander suffered burns on 40% of his body in the blast at a home he owned, near Onawa.

He’s listed in “critical condition” in the burn unit of an Omaha hospital. Wednesday, Monona County investigators said Thelander’s burns are third-degree.

Investigators believe the explosion is tied to an early morning break-in at Thelander’s house.

Updated: August 29, 2007, 6:46 pm

Copyright © 2007 KTIV

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Victim’s Family Speaks Out About Copper Crime Explosion

On January 12, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

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Victim’s Family Speaks Out About Copper Crime Explosion

August 30, 2007, 6:30 pm


Earl Thelander getting ready to plant tomatoes outside his homeAn Onawa, Iowa man is still struggling to stay alive, two days after a house explosion nearly killed him.

Now, that man’s family wants an answer, to who cut the propane line in his father’s home.

Over 40% [sic, was 80%] of Earl Thelander’s body was burned in Tuesday’s explosion. He went through three hours of skin graft surgery today.

However, doctors say he only has a 20% to 25% chance of survival.

We’re learning more about the minutes leading up to that powerful propane blast, as the search for clues to this bizarre crime, continues.

“I had talked to dad about 10:30, he told me about the theft at that point,” says his son Brad.

Someone broke into Earl Thelander’s basement Tuesday morning, came away with $10 worth of copper tubing, and left him with a dangerous problem, a gas leak. The 80 year old man opened the windows to air out his home, and left.

“He called me back at quarter to 11. Apparently at that time, he was headed back out to the house,” remembers Brad.

Thelander thought the air was clear and plugged in a fan, but then… “He said I’ve never seen a fireball that big,” says Brad.

Thelander quickly crawled out of the house, and tried to use his cell phone to call for help.

“But it was inoperative at that point, and there was no one else there. So, he got in the pick-up and drove home,” explains his son.

Thirty minutes later the 80 year old checked into the local hospital, with his body burned to the bone.

“Tonight we’re just hoping that his kidneys and his lungs keep functioning. You know it’s definitely a struggle at this point,” Brad explains.

Authorities say copper crimes are becoming more common, at least in parts of Siouxland.

Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt says, “We have seen an influx in the counties to the south of us, stealing of copper wire and tubing, and they’re reselling that, at this point we don’t know where.”

To Brad Thelander, stealing a piece of copper is not worth a life, especially not a loved one.

“He’s gonna be in a lot of pain if he lives through it. For this, to put something like this on a man’s life it’s sad that something has to do that. For ten bucks, I’d a given them ten bucks to keep my dad around,” says Brad.

Without any physical evidence or witnesses Sheriff Pratt says this is a very hard crime to solve.

If you saw or heard anything about the copper robbery you’re asked to call the Monona County Sheriff’s Department at 1-800-859-1414.

Authorities say you can protect your home from copper crimes the same way you protect it for any other burglary.

Lock your doors, install security lights, make it look like somebody’s home, and keep your eyes out for your neighbors too.

Copyright © 2007 KTIV

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Victim Of Robbery And Explosion Passes Away

On January 7, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

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Victim Of Robbery And Explosion Passes Away

September 1, 2007, 11:12 pm

KTIV photo of rural homeAn Onawa, Iowa man died Saturday night, just days after a propane explosion at his home.

On Tuesday, police say someone robbed this home and stole copper tubing water lines. In the process, the thieves cut the propane line.

Later that day, the homeowner, 80 year old Earl Thelander, turned on a fan to vent the fumes and that’s when the explosion happened.

Thelander drove himself to the Burgess Medical Center in Onawa, with burns over 40% of his body.

Copyright © 2007 KTIV

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Robbery Suspects Face Enhanced Charges After Explosion

On January 7, 2012, in , by Jody Ewing

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Robbery Suspects Face Enhanced Charges After Explosion

September 4, 2007, 4:40 p.m.

KTIV photo of rural homeBurglary charges will be enhanced against whomever cut the propane lines in an Onawa, Iowa man’s home, after the homeowner died from injuries suffered in an explosion.

Last Tuesday, authorities believe at least one person broke into Earl Thelander’s home and stole copper tubing from his basement.

The Monona County sheriff believes they cut the home’s propane lines in the midst of their robbery.

Thelander, who was badly burned by an explosion in the home later that day, died over the weekend.

Sheriff Jeff Pratt says the investigation into the theft is ongoing.

Copyright © 2007 KTIV

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