March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. It is a day that is often full of boisterous celebrations. Many consider it a “lucky” day. For Briceida Lopez and her boyfriend, Jose Solis, that is not the case. March 17, 2018 was a decidedly unlucky day for them. It was a day that they will never forget, and one which changed their lives forever.
Briceida and Jose live in Truckee, CA and Briceida operates a house cleaning service in the Truckee- North Lake Tahoe area. On the evening of March 17, she was cleaning a rental house in Squaw Valley and was washing a load of laundry down in the basement. Briceida moved the load of towels that she had washed over to the dryer. Unaware that there was a gas leak in the dryer, she started it and turned away. A loud explosion followed. Jose raced down the steps to the basement and grabbed Briceida. They ran outside and rolled in the snow to stop the fire that was burning their clothes and bodies.
Emergency services responded to the fire and Jose and Briceida were put on the life flight helicopter to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. UCDMC is the Level One Trauma Center for this area of California. Briceida and Jose both suffered from severe 3rd degree burns, Briceida to over 70% of her body and Jose to 50% of his.
On March 18, Jose’s parents in Jalisco, Mexico received a phone call from their daughter Silvia, who also lives in Truckee. She told them that there had been an accident. They both assumed that the accident was related to the snow. They didn’t learn until later that it was an explosion that nearly took both lives. Jose’s father, Alfredo Solis Lomeli and his mother, Maria Socorro Pena Chavez were both extremely worried and emotional. They didn’t have enough money to travel to Sacramento right away. Maria said “I wished I had wings so that I could just fly to be with my son.” A week later, aided by the generosity of friends and family, Maria and Alfredo flew to Sacramento. They saw their son and “daughter” and were referred to Kiwanis Family House to stay while here supporting Jose and Briceida.
Briceida’s mother, Gualdalupe Ramos lives in Nayarit, Mexico and had difficulty obtaining her visa to travel to support her daughter. She finally arrived on April 15. She, too was referred to Kiwanis Family House to stay while here in Sacramento.
Both the Solis family and Mrs. Ramos say that they are very blessed and very grateful that Kiwanis Family House is here for them, providing food and shelter in their time of need. They say that they are especially grateful that they are able to stay so close to the hospital, even though they cannot pay anything toward their stay.
It is only through the generous donations of our supporting clubs, individuals, and others that families like these are able to stay without charge in their time of need. Won’t you help us help more families by joining me in donating on the Big Day of Giving?