The Indianapolis explosion of 2012 destroyed Richmond Hill homes and changed a once introverted neighborhood into a close-knit family. Junior sociology major Ashleigh Laymon and her family have moved to a rebuilt home with a positive outlook and a closer neighborhood.
Shock filled junior Ashleigh Laymon’s head when she saw her Indianapolis neighborhood on fire via television from her Ball State dorm room. She started getting texts and calls from friends asking her if her family was safe, a question she couldn’t answer. When she called her step-dad, he told her they were all right, but quickly hung up. This reassurance was not enough for Laymon. She had to find a way home.
Richmond Hill made statewide news on Nov. 10, 2012, when an explosion caused roughly $4 million dollars in residential damage.
“I thought it was a joke,” Laymon says. “Until I got on the phone with my dad and heard the chaos in the background, I didn’t think it was real. I think the hardest part was being away.”
At the time of the explosion, Laymon’s mother, Heather Hollingsworth, was in their living room sitting on the couch. Her step-dad was upstairs.
“Once I knew that it [the explosion] was real,” Laymon says, “and it had happened and I saw it on the television for myself, it was like this pit, this knot, in my stomach was like I need to get home now.”
A friend of Laymon’s drove her to explosion site at 1 a.m., a place she has called home since 2008. It was the first house her mom and step-dad bought together. It combined their families into one loving home.
Neither of her parents was drastically injured from the explosion, but Hollingsworth had glass coming out of her skin for a few weeks following. Since the concussion of the blast caused the house to shift off of its foundation, the family had two options: rebuild or move.
“I think they thought about moving for a couple of minutes, maybe,” Laymon says. “That was our first place. That was kind of where we got together at. I think that they rebuilt there just because we were all more comfortable with it.”
The family lived in an apartment during the rebuilding and moved into the reconstructed house in January 2014. After roughly 11 months of her family rebuilding, Laymon looks back on the explosion positively.
“Knowing that my family was OK was way more important to me than like losing a couch or losing our old house,” Laymon says.
Laymon knows she will miss the old memories, but that there are plenty new memories to create in their rebuilt home together as a family.