Angel On A Jet Ski

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 2:22pm

Flood survivors recount daring rescue.

She had two choices: burn to death or drown.

Caught in an impossible spot, Tennessee resident Leslie Bills was rescued from certain death by a locksmith on a jet ski.

Bills was on jet ski with two other people and two dogs when her house exploded during last May's flooding.

Her new home resembles a church, which she said is intentional.

"I'm going to try to share it with as many people as I can, with benefits and different things like that, because God saved me for a reason, sent me Bill (Krauser) for a reason," Bills said.

With Krauser's family safe, the locksmith jumped on his jet ski and started down Pennington Bend Drive to see if anyone might need some help.

He found the trouble he was looking for.

"It wasn't a good deal; that's for sure," he said.

Krauser pulled up, and on jumped Bills, Bill Heldenberg and two pet dogs.

"I tried to get on it twice, and it turned over twice, and fortunately, they said, I told them, 'Ya'll go ahead without me,' and they said, 'We're not leaving without you,'" said Heldenberg.
"Twenty seconds later, the house exploded."

"There were angels dancing all around us, especially that man," said Bills.

"I don't know about the hero part. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I was just trying to get us out of there," said Krauser.

Others saw it differently.

Talk show host and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres bought Krauser a new jet ski and a new car.

She also bought Bills a new car and gave her dog food for a year.

Quaker Oats donated money for Bills to rebuild.

Bills' good friend, contractor Scotty Atkinson, is building her dream home.

She walked away from her house with the clothes on her back and her dog, Deuce.

She said she would gladly trade everything just to get her log cabin back.

Instead, she has fought through a year of dealing with rebuilding her home and her physical and mental health.

"I'm coming back," Bills said.

Everything about the house is new, but one thing will not change, one secret symbol to remind Bills of what happened.

It's her mailbox.

She said she won't clean it, to remind her of what she survived.
 

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