A retired teacher from Newnan High School, who was the sister of the Coweta County sheriff, was killed early Sunday during what is believed to be a gas leak explosion at her home in Colorado, authorities said.
Ann McLean, 66, died after her and her husband’s home exploded on Mad Moose Lane near Grand Lake, Colo., around 12:40 a.m., the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. Her husband, 63-year-old Mark McLean, was taken to a Denver-area hospital in critical condition.
The Associated Press reported that firefighters with the Grand Lake Fire Protection District were able to extinguish the blaze by about 9 a.m., but the home was a total loss.
Coweta Sheriff Lenn Wood told Channel 2 Action News that the news of his sister’s death still hasn’t sunk in.
“I handled it like a call really because it wasn’t real to me,” he said. “We were very close, so it was a shock.”
Ann was the oldest of eight children, Channel 2 reported. She and her husband were both teachers at Newnan High until 2010, which is when they moved to Colorado.
“(She’s) pretty much the matriarch, since our parents died, so we call her when we needed advice,” Wood said.
Coweta School System spokesman Dean Jackson said in a statement: “Both (Ann and Mark) had a significant influence on thousands of students and on their fellow educators at Newnan High School during their career.”
He said Ann worked for the school system for 33 years, mostly as a math teacher. Mark worked as a science teacher as well as the school’s media specialist and technology specialist during his 25 years at the school.
“In the classroom they inspired students to be passionate about all the wonders of science and mathematics. Through their teaching and love of learning, they found each other here on the campus of Newnan High School,” Principal Chase Puckett said in the statement. “The McLeans are truly part of the fabric of Newnan High School.”
Wood said he’s been receiving messages from her former students who said she inspired them to pursue teaching. He also said his family has been leaning on their faith to get through this.
“That’s the only thing that gets us through — my church, my preacher keeps us strong,” he said.
For now, Wood told the news station he’s trying to stay busy with his work to distract himself from the loss and grief he’s experiencing.
“That’s why I’m at work,” he said. “It helps me not think about it, and we’re waiting on the body to come in at the airport. Hopefully, she’ll be coming home soon.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the size of the blast that blew out the home’s walls indicates a likely natural gas explosion or similar cause, the AP reported.
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