Feb 9, 2010 9:43 PM by David Ortiviz

Branch Inn survivor reopens store in honor of friend

One of the Branch Inn survivors is speaking out for the first time about the tragic day an explosion rocked downtown Pueblo, killing her best friend and injuring several others. Jennifer Flower was working inside A Classic Boutique with her friend Ashley Johnson. The boutique was located next to the Branch Inn, which was leveled after a natural gas build up in the basement accidentally ignited on Nov. 13, 2008.

Flower says she and Ashley were inseparable. "(Ashley) was always supportive of everything I did. We went to school together since the 7th grade, so we'd always been friends and did everything together," said Flower.

Flower, now 24, was trapped underneath the rubble for 20 minutes before she was rescued. She suffered a broken pelvis and cracked her back in different places. Flower had to use a wheelchair for nearly two months, but has made a tremendous recovery and is able to walk again. "I'm doing better, a lot better than I was," said Flower.

Flower and her sister Sherri Lombard have now reopened their store, which they renamed Ashley's in honor of their friend and former co-worker. "I think (Ashley) would think it's great," said Flower. "I think she'd be really happy that we named the store after her," she added.

Ashley's is located at 108 E. D St. A grand reopening will be held Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7p.m.


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