Mourners remember deadly Texas hospital explosion year later
GATESVILLE, Texas (AP) — Exactly one year after an explosion ripped through a construction site at Coryell Memorial Hospital — instantly killing one person, fatally wounding two others and injuring 13 more — community members and hospital staff gathered in front of the hospital.
“We want this to be a moment of remembrance,” hospital CEO David Byrom said during the ceremony. “Our goal now is to focus on the positives for the community. The explosion was a defining moment for the community; not the explosion itself, but how we responded to it.”
The Killeen Daily Herald reports more than 60 community members and hospital staff gathered Wednesday to pay their respects to the construction workers who were killed or injured in the June 26, 2018, explosion at a construction site on the hospital grounds.
Michael Bruggman died during the initial explosion, while Filiberto Morales and Wilber Dimas died later as a result of injuries they sustained during the blast.
According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office report, the explosion was caused by a pocket of gas in the boiler and mechanical rooms ignited by an unknown source. A natural gas pipe supplying water heater units appeared to have been disconnected before the explosion, allowing gas to flow freely into the mechanical room, according to the report.
After the explosion, multiple lawsuits were filed. Three companies — Atmos Energy Corporation, Lochridge-Priest, Inc. and Johnson Controls, Inc. — were sued for negligence by the mother of one of the workers killed. Atmos was also hit with another lawsuit filed by a Waco law firm on behalf of another of the victims.
Coryell Memorial Hospital officials also sued the general contractor and insurance company involved in the explosion. Adolfson & Peterson Inc., the contractor over the multimillion-dollar project on the hospital, and Zurich American Insurance Company are the defendants.
Speaking to the lawsuits, after the ceremony Byrom said the hospital’s suit against the general contractor and insurance company was “ongoing” but that there were a lot of moving parts involved, and he did not have more information available.
At the end of the ceremony, hospital spokeswoman Carly Latham said the goal of the hospital is finish the construction that was going on at the time of the explosion.
“We are hoping to be able to move in to the new building by the end of this year or the beginning of next year,” she said. “The hospital will be celebrating its 80th birthday next year, and the way we recover and rebuild will always be a part of our history.”
Latham said she was cheered by the amount of community support Wednesday’s ceremony received.
“I knew it would be a large turnout today. This tragedy brought us together as a community.”
Information from: Killeen Daily Herald, http://www.kdhnews.com