Update: Family of Gophers TE safe after explosion in West, Texas

Nate Gotlieb

Jennifer Plsek was watching TV in her West, Texas, home when she heard the explosion. 

She heard “a really loud boom” and felt her house shake.  She raced outside and saw a mushroom-shaped cloud with smoke pouring from it.  She forced her three youngest sons and their two friends back inside. 

Soon after, she heard the news from her mother: there had been an explosion at the fertilizer plant two miles away from her home.

About 1,000 miles north, Jennifer’s oldest son Lincoln, a sophomore tight end on the Gophers football team, heard news of an explosion and began frantically texting his friends and family. 

“I was shocked,” Plsek said after football practice Thursday.  “I was trying to talk to whoever I could and get as much information as I could, because I didn’t know anything.” 

At about 9 p.m. Wednesday — about an hour after the explosion — Lincoln finally got in touch with his mom. 

His family was safe, she told him. 

With reports of the possibility of a second explosion, Jennifer and her sons spent the night at her in-laws house, about 10 minutes south of their home. 

They spent the night glued to the TV.

“I don’t think we could have slept if we tried,” Jennifer said. 

Lincoln also stayed up the whole night, watching news reports on CNN. 

He took to Twitter Thursday morning, tweeting: "My family and friends and their families that I've talked to are okay.  It's just really bad down there. A lot of chaos last night."

Plsek practiced Thursday.  He said he dedicated the practice to “everyone who got hurt and everyone who died.”

He said that a relative's dad died in the explosion, which as of Thursday night had claimed 35 to 40 lives, according to a Los Angeles Times report. 

Plsek plans on playing in the spring game next Saturday and finishing the semester.  Then he will return to West. 

“Obviously I want to go down there and help so bad,” Plsek said.  “But it might just be the best decision to stay up here and wait it out.”