California Teen Crushed by Chimney in Napa Earthquake Thankful

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A California teen awoken in his home by a 6.0-magnitude earthquake that shook Napa Valley Sunday made a split-second decision to crawl off of a mattress near a chimney that collapsed on the 13-year-old — and that’s a decision Nick Dillon believes saved his life.

“I do feel lucky. That day I could have died,” Dillon said from his hospital bed at UC Davis Medical Center Tuesday, as he recovered from a 10-hour surgery to repair his fractured pelvis. Shaken awake by the 3:20 a.m. earthquake, Dillon yelled to a friend sleeping over and was crawling towards the door when the chimney fell on his back and buried the boy in rubble. “I couldn't feel my legs. I thought I was paralyzed,” he said.

Visitors hoping for the teen’s speedy recovery included Sacramento Republic Football Club right midfielder and Napa native Max Alvarez, who on Tuesday paid a visit to give Dillon a soccer ball signed by the team and game tickets. Even though Dillon, a soccer player himself, will be off the field for a while, he's keeping his chin up. “I’m not going to let this get me down,” he said. “I’m going to recover as fast as I can, and I’m going to be OK.”



— Bita Ryan and Phil Helsel