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Recovery for Johnson family continues; father and son leave hospital

WBFO News photo by Chris Caya

The Red Cross is providing assistance to the Johnson family who lost their daughter and entire home in an explosion Tuesday in Wilson. 

14-year-old Sarah Johnson was killed when a blast tore apart the home on Chestnut Street in Niagara County. 

Jay Bonafede, communications director at the local Red Cross, says a senior emergency services director and a mental health volunteer both met with the family Wednesday to offer support.

"This is a tragic event for everyone involved.  We have trained Mental Health volunteers on staff, who are available 24 hours a day to help the emotionally at this time," said Bonafede.

The Red Cross is assisting with food, clothing and temporary housing.  It will also provide a long-term recovery plan.

"There lives have changed in a blink of the eye, and to have someone deal with that, is very important, for the entire family," said Bonafede.

On Thursday, two  members of the family were  released from Erie County Medical Center.

Bill Lowery Jr., lead pastor for the family's Ransomville Free Methodist Church, says father Jody Johnson and son Nate were released after treatment of their injuries.

Two family members remain in the hospital -- mother Judy and daughter Katie, who is in the hospital's burn unit in critical condition. Judy, who has been moved from intensive care to a regular room, is in fair condition.

Lowery says it is a tightly-knit family.

"They're very involved. They are a great model for everyone else," said Lowery. "They have a hope that is beyond this world."

Lowery says the father and son and two other children who weren't home at the time of the blast are moving to a house that has been loaned to them. He says the family is grateful to the public for the flow of donations and for the loaned house.

The pastor says there are no funeral arrangements yet for Sarah.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.