PSNC employee in ‘battle of his lifetime’ after Durham blast caused 150 holes in chest, skull fracture

April 17, 2019

A PSNC employee who was working at the site of a deadly gas explosion last week in downtown Durham was airlifted from Duke Hospital to the UNC Burn Center Tuesday.

Jay Rambeaut is a father, husband and family man. When a gas leak led to an explosion on North Duke Street last Wednesday, Rambeaut was doing the job he has done for more than 20 years as a first responder locator for PSNC Energy.

Rambeaut’s job means he is among the first on the scene when there is a report of a gas leak.

“Since last Wednesday, he’s had the battle of his lifetime,” Rambeaut’s sister-in-law, Donna Jackson, said. “Since this happened on Wednesday, it’s almost as if time has stood still and everything is in slow motion, because everything revolves around his minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour care.”

Rambeaut’s family credits the quick work of firefighters and other first responders with getting him to safety. Jackson said Rambeaut went into cardiac arrest at Duke Hospital because of his extensive injuries, but doctors were able to revive him.

“There’s over 150 holes in his chest from debris that flew into him. He has a skull fracture…there’s debris in his brain now that will always be there.”

Jackson said it’s likely Rambeaut’s wife and son will both have to leave work in order to care for him. The family set up a GoFundMe page as they prepare for an uncertain future.

“Every day has been a baby step forward. We’ve learned quick that we have to praise God for every little step forward. Obviously, there’s been a lot of prayers and good wishes. We’re so thankful for all of them and we know for the next six to eight months, we’re going to have to hold onto those tight,” she said.

Last week’s explosion claimed the life of coffee shop owner Kong Lee. A vigil to honor Lee’s memory is planned for Tuesday night.

Several resources have been set up in the Durham community to help those dealing with the aftermath of the explosion.

Alliance Health has set up a resource for those experiencing stress following the blast. A licensed clinician can provide assistance 24 hours a day at 800-510-9132.

Signs of disaster-related stress may include trouble sleeping, noticing a significant change in your energy levels, using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs, frequent crying, sudden outbursts of anger, isolation, memory trouble, difficulty concentrating and difficulty taking about what happened.