GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman who was hospitalized after her house exploded early Monday has died, authorities say.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Department identified her as 77-year-old Joann Aimery. She died Monday evening.
The explosion happened just after midnight Monday at her home on Fairwood Court, near the intersection of 76th Street SE and Kalamazoo Avenue SE in Gaines Township. Aimery was a widow who lived there alone, her neighbors said.
Aimery’s nephew said that last November, she lost her husband of almost 30 years, Sylvester, and was just about to move out of the six-bedroom house they called home.
“After his demise, it was just too much for her,” Edward Whitby explained. “She was going to sell it.”
Whitby had no shortage of things to say about the woman he proudly called his Auntie Ann.
“Very youthful and energetic, spontaneous,” Whitby listed.
He said the 77-year-old was always a hard worker and recently got out of retirement and returned to the workforce.
“My Auntie Ann was one that always told us at a young age, ‘Get a job, be successful, make it happen for yourself. Don’t wait on anyone to take care of you. You take care of you. You make it happen for yourself,'” he said.
When first responders arrived after the explosion, they found Aimery injured on her back deck. Firefighters reached her as deputies sprayed nearby flames with a hose. She was taken to the hospital, where she was initially listed in critical condition.
A neighbor recalled a “huge boom” that rocked his house.
“My blinds were closed, but my whole room turned red, and when I opened the blinds you could see just this huge fire,” Shadman Rahman said.
The house was destroyed in the explosion and resulting fire, with only part of its front still standing. Debris was scattered nearby. The blast blew glass into the 16th hole at StoneWater Country Club, to which the property backs up.
Before returning home, Whitby said Aimery just spent the weekend in Lansing with her identical twin sister, Joan, Whitby’s mother.
“She’s still devastated… I know that mom’s going to be okay,” Whitby said. “Her peace is she was able to spend Sunday with her identical twin sister.”
As the family and her neighbors wait for answers as to what caused the explosion, Whitby said there is so much that comes to their minds about his Auntie Ann, not just the beautiful life she lived, but the high bar she set for others.
“When I think of my aunt, I will remember her as being a positive role model as she was in our lives, everyone that she met and everyone that she came in contact with — to be a better person,” Whitby said.
The explosion remains under investigation. It could take several weeks to find the cause.