Microburst Victim: 'I Was Just Trying to Protect My Girls'
Heath Mullins, 38, was badly injured Sunday when a microburst destroyed Cheer Fusion at 86 Fleming St. just south of Fredericksburg. A second parent, Michelle Smith, was also seriously injured but recovering.
Heath Mullins looked up and saw the roof peel off and a 30-foot wall coming toward him. At that moment he thought his life was over.
"I saw the wall coming down at me and I thought, 'This is it, I am going to die now,'" said Mullins, 38, from his hospital bed at Mary Washington Hospital.
Moments before, the bay doors flew open and he helped another parent usher about a dozen cheerleaders into a safer room in Cheer Fusion at 86 Fleming St. The building was battered and toppled by a powerful microburst Sunday. The storm tore down trees, telephone and power poles, and the roof from Cheer Fusion destroyed a neighboring home owned by John Bettis. Businesses in Fleming Center were also heavily damaged.
Mullins said as he was ushering the girls out of the middle of the building he saw the bay door blow off and cinder blocks were falling to the ground. His wife and daughter were in the building with him.
"I didn’t have anywhere to go at that point," he said. They were all in there. I looked up and I saw the ceiling peel up and then the wall started to fall on me. I opened my eyes and I was on the ground. I tried to get back up and I couldn’t."
Covered in blood, Mullins was in a fetal position hoping someone would find him. Shortly after, another parent and Spotsylvania County Deputy Jesse Hanrahan carried out Mullins to safety. The sheriff's office said Hanrahan also carried out injured parent Michelle Smith, who was in fair condition at Mary Washington Hospital.
"After that it was all kind of a blur," Mullins said. "It’s not very pleasant to see 30 feet of brick coming down on you."
Mullins was supposed to leave the hospital Wednesday but it is now doubtful because of the severity of his injuries. He just had two surgeries Monday night for his left leg, where his fibula broke in 20 pieces. He has nerve damage in his right hand, where his carpal tunnel was severed, as well as two broken toes, two fractured vertebrae and a bunch of scars and stitches.
"I don’t know when I am getting out of here," he said
During the interview Mullins was getting visits from a large group of the cheerleaders and their parents. Many are calling him a hero for his actions.
“I just did what I needed to do and that’s all," he said, giving credit to the sheriff's deputies and fire and rescue workers who put their lives on the line every day. "All I was trying to do was protect my girls, and that’s it."