MINNEAPOLIS - The force of the explosion that rocked Minnehaha Academy on Wednesday morning was described by many on the block as a sonic boom, waking people from a deep sleep.

Several neighbors heard screams, and as they watched the tragedy in real time, they didn't hide in their homes but ran to help.

Paul Meskan, who lives steps away, was one of them. The Ramsey County deputy just happened to home on vacation.

He dodged raining debris, pulling concrete off of a trapped man.

"Just ran and just started digging and the one guy he was there, he had a heartbeat, and he was moving oxygen, so we got a chance, let's get him," he said. "And then you could smell the gas and then a fire started."

For Meskan, there was no hesitation about helping.

"I mean, there's lives at risk and you've got to go and get them," he said.

But they weren't able to get everybody out safely.

"And then they said there is a female, and we tried to, you know, but..." Meskan said. "That's the sad part."

Minnehaha Academy confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Ruth Berg, a longtime receptionist at the school, did not survive the blast. Paul cannot forget the life he saved, or the life he couldn't reach.

"I mean, it's a family member," Meskan said.

Authorities confirmed later Wednesday night that a second body had been pulled from the rubble, bringing the death toll to two.