I saw him reach for the car handle. Them I turned to go into the kitchen where my husband was. It was just a second, then I heard the loud explosion. Smoke came into the house. At first I thought something happened to my husband in the kitchen.
When Mrs. Thomas turned and saw the smoke rising above Hankish's car, she sprang into action:
I cried, 'Oh Paul, Oh Paul.' I ran to him. I was the first one there. He kept saying 'take me down, take me down.' I couldn't move him.
Mrs. Thomas saw Hankish's wife and children run from the house and stand beside the wreckage. Mrs. Thomas' good deeds weren't over yet. She said, "I took the (Hankish) children over to my home while she (Mrs. Hankish) went to the hospital."
Mrs. Thomas may not have been the first one to reach the wounded Hankish. The News-Register identified 23 year-old Earl Bowers as the first one to approach Hankish. Bowers was walking at the corner of Fourth and Richland Avenues, which put him a half block from the Hankish home. Bowers said, "I saw him (Hankish) open the car door." Bowers went on to say that he heard the car door bang shut, the engine starting and then the explosion. Bowers described what it was like to be that close to the explosion and his actions afterward:
It knocked me down sideways. I saw stuff coming past me. Parts of the car were going by my ears. I got up and went over and talked to him (Hankish). He wasn't hysterical.
Bowers wouldn't tell reporters what Hankish said. Bowers did say, "I told him I was going to call an ambulance." Bowers said he couldn't help but notice that both of Hankish's legs looked like they were "torn off and under the seat."
At North Fourth Street and Warwood Avenue, a crew employed by Manufacturers Light & Heat Company was working. They rushed to the scene and joined the crowd of bystanders, which grew to a minimum of 150 people.
Firemen and police arrived at the scene within minutes. The police contingent was led by Police Chief Louis M. Kulpa and his chief detective, Lt. William J. Thomas. Ohio County Prosecuting Attorney Thomas A. Goodwin also made the trip. Fire Chief William McFadden was one of the first on the scene. By this time, Hankish was in agony. As the emergency crews were attempting to get Hankish out of the mangled car, he pleaded, "Get me out of here...get me out of here." Hankish was successfully removed from the car, but only after bolt cutters were used to cut away a portion of the mangled car where one of his legs was trapped. Fire Chief McFadden later described the scene:
He (Hankish) was all cut up. There were quite a number of lacerations on his face. He raised his head up when they got him into the ambulance...there wasn't anything left of the car...I don't think he will make it.
On the way to Wheeling Hospital, Hankish became hysterical.
The ambulance arrived at Wheeling Hospital around 10:40 a.m. Hankish was immediately rushed into the emergency room. About five minutes later a nurse came out and said that "Hankish asked for Joe Dobkin." Joe Dobkin was well-known in Wheeling as an official of Dobkin Brothers, a coin machine distributor in Wheeling.
Shortly before noon, Wheeling Hospital director, Dr. George Kellas, met with reporters. He said that Hankish was "coming out of a state of shock and showing improvement." Asked about the extent of Hankish's injuries, Dr. Kellas replied that neither of Hankish's legs were completely blown off, but did say that they were badly mangled. Dr. Kellas said that he didn't know whether they could be saved until surgery was performed. Dr. Kellas added that Hankish's hands were also badly mangled. Reporters then saw Hankish wheeled out of the emergency room on his way to surgery. He had a bandage over his forehead and cuts around his face and lips. As he was wheeled into the first floor elevator, reporters heard Hankish ask, "Where am I now?" An aide responded with, "We're getting on the elevator to go upstairs." The time was 12:10 a.m.
Reporters made note of the small crowd that waited outside of the emergency room. They included law enforcement and fire department officials, Hankish's friends, and interested hospital personnel. But Hankish wouldn't be talking to any of them for the time being. Hankish had earlier told the Wheeling Hospital chaplain that he would only talk to Sister Angela Merici, one of his former schoolteachers. When Wheeling Police Detective Chris Jebbia asked Sister Merici if Hankish said who might responsible for the explosion, the wheelchair-bound Merici answered, "He didn't make a clear statement."