What to Know
- He labors through physical therapy three times a week. He's most upset that he can't take care of himself.
A sudden gas explosion leveled a Plantation shopping center nearly two months ago. Those who were hurt have fully recovered – except for one.
Matt Seese, 30, suffered the worst injuries in the blast. He was standing just yards away from the abandoned Pizzafire restaurant in Plantation July 6th when it blew up.
"I didn't black out, It was almost like someone threw pop rocks at my feet and I started running, hopping away from the explosion," says Seese.
He spent the morning lighting weights at LA Fitness with a friend. The two finished up and were headed back to his car at what would turn out to be the worst possible moment.
"It was like being in a movie,” he said. “It was silence, car alarms going off, smoke everywhere and then trying to get around what just happened, I don't even know."
Matt took cover behind his car. He didn't know how bad he was hurt until he checked on his friend.
"My buddy was laying on the ground so he did fall, I don't know if he was knocked down or hit the ground,” he said during an exclusive interview with NBC 6 reporter Marissa Bagg. “I remember yelling his name to find out, 'hey, are you ok?' He got up, ran over to me and asked 'are you ok?' I even said, 'yeah I'm fine.'”
“Then I looked down and noticed my leg first, I had two big cuts, I was bleeding. I sat down and took my shirt off and wrapped my leg, there was no one out there,” Seese added.
As the dust settled, people started to pour out of the gym and other businesses stunned, screaming. Strangers ran to help Matt, people who probably saved his life.
"A guy from Publix ran over and took his belt off and put a tourniquet on my leg. At that point three or four people carried me from that spot by my car all the way to Publix," explains Seese.
Cell phone video shows that moment, when a Publix employee took his belt off to stop the bleeding.
"I look back and think how amazed how many people I'd never met before in my life that jumped right in to help with no care or thought. One guy ran all the way from Publix to put the tourniquet on in the first place,” Seese said. “You know I want to reach out and say thank you, but I don't know who they are.
For what seemed like forever, Matt waited for paramedics to find him in the chaos. He started to think he wasn't going to make it.
"I haven't told a lot of people this, but I did lay there at one point in time I looked up and said this is it, I'm going to bleed out because no one can get to me,” he confessed.
But they did get to him, and Matt never lost consciousness.
"They put me in the bed of a pickup truck and drove me from the Publix to the street and that's the first time I actually saw the building and saw what happened,” he said. “My stomach dropped when I saw LA Fitness and how bad it actually was."
Matt's injuries were severe. Debris from the blast left deep cuts in his right leg and right arm, severing tendons, requiring multiple surgeries. He spent 5 days in the hospital and now wears a boot and an arm cast.
He labors through physical therapy three times a week. He's most upset that he can't take care of himself.
"I haven't been able to take a shower by myself in the last six weeks. I've had to have a nurse and they can't come every day so it's every other day, you don't get a shower on the weekend," says Seese.
Matt's an upbeat guy, but there's a still a mental toll.
"I didn't realize the emotional effect until a day or two after and certain things, dreaming about things here and there and some of that coming back. Loud noises I've never had an issue growing up with construction, but now little things like that I'm more aware," says Seese.
Still he's grateful. Grateful for those who rushed to his side, grateful he wasn't killed.
"It looks like a war zone. I'm happy to be here today, looking at that."
In the weeks since the explosion, state investigators released a preliminary report about what caused the explosion, an open gas line. But the early findings don't reveal who may be at fault. That remains under investigation.
"I'll never get these six weeks back,” he added. “I do want someone to take responsibility for it."