Construction worker remains in hospital following Durham gas explosion

May 22, 2019

A 39-year-old construction worker has been identified as one of about two dozen people who were injured in the fatal gas explosion in downtown Durham.

Enrique Reyes was working for an underground cable company along North Duke Street when the blast happened on the morning of April 10.

His daughter, Stephanie Reyes, says he is improving, but still has a long way to go.

“I am able to see him every afternoon. I see him mostly every day,” she said.

Stephanie says her dad’s last memory is going into Terero’s Mexican restaurant to warn of the danger.

“He was basically working on the underground pipes, and he even went to the person who works at the cafe and told them to evacuate,” she said.

Three weeks later, he woke up at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

“He had second-degree burns over 30 percent of his body from his waist up,” she said.

Enrique Reyes is now being treated at Duke University Hospital.

“He’s prayed with me – I just tell him to keep holding on – that he’s tired of being here,” Stephanie Reyes said. “He talks to us and tells us he loves us, and he’s trying to fight to get out of this.”

Kong Lee, 61, the owner of the Kaffeinate coffee shop in the building that took the brunt of the blast, was killed in the explosion.

Jay Rambeaut, a first responder and a locator for PSNC Energy, also died as a result of the blast.

Nearly two dozen other people were injured in the explosion, including nine firefighters. The blast was felt for miles and left the Durham community shaken on what was, ironically, the city’s 150th birthday.

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