"We wouldn't be here right now." SV girl awarded for actions during gas leak

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"We wouldn't be here right now." SV girl awarded for actions during gas leak

By Rikki Mitchell. CREATED Oct 11, 2013

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - A Sierra Vista neighborhood already knows that Erika Caperon is their hero. But now, it's official.

Erika received a Good Citizen Award from Southwest Gas for her quick thinking that saved an entire neighborhood back in July.

"We wouldn't be here right now," says Norma Caperon, Erika's mother. "Everything that went on, just wow. She saved a lot of lives, including ours."
Erika says she went outside to greet her mom and heard a strange sound coming from her front yard.

"I heard a river under the rocks," she says.

That river turned out to be a natural gas leak and an unusually large one at that. Her mother called 911 and crews evacuated the entire street.

"[A firefighter] said 'you have to leave,'" says Gary Perkinson, who lives across the street. "'Grab your wallet, your cell phone, your purse and leave. You're in the immediate blast area."

Without Erika's keen senses, this neighborhood could have looked like a San Bruno, Calif. neighborhood in 2010, where eight people died after a gas line ruptured and ignited a fire.

But because Erika noticed something odd, crews fixed the leak and the street is once again safe.

"She's to be commended," says Perkinson. "I'm glad to hear she's getting an award because it could have been really, really dangerous."

"She really showed some unusual perception," says Julie Phipps, Southwest Gas District Manager. "She did the right thing by telling an adult."

And all Erika has to say to her neighbors is, "Thank you."

Rikki Mitchell

Rikki Mitchell

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Rikki Mitchell is a proud University of Arizona grad and joined the KGUN9 team after graduation. Rikki reports for the evening newscasts.