Tuesday, May 28th, an explosion occurred in the 13-story Realty Tower building in Youngstown, killing one and leaving several others injured. Officials found a cut natural gas line in the basement of the building, but the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported it is not yet known if that played a role in causing the explosion. 

Tom Chapman, an NTSB board member, said in a news conference that the line was not supposed to have gas in it, but it was found to be pressurized. Chapman reported that the line came off of the main service line which led to the Realty Tower building but did not service it. 

The explosion blew out most of the ground floor, where a Chase Bank branch was located, killing an employee. The blast caused part of the ground floor to collapse into the basement and sent bricks, glass, and other debris in every direction. The upper levels of the building housed apartments. 

After the explosion, first responders were on location within minutes and began search and rescue efforts. There is video footage from the bodycam of a Mahoning County deputy helping firefighters lower a ladder into a hole where the ground floor had collapsed into the basement, to rescue a woman who was trapped. 

Unfortunately, a Chase Bank employee, 27-year-old Akil Drake, died in the explosion. Seven injured people were taken to Mercy Health Hospital in Youngstown on Tuesday. By Thursday, three had been released, three others were in stable condition, while one woman remained in critical condition. No further details have been released in regard to her name or injuries. 

The NTSB has dispatched pipeline and hazardous materials investigators to the scene to observe the damage. Chapman said that the NTSB team would remain on the scene for around a week and issue an initial report within 30 days. 

Potential Avenues of Legal Recourse for the Victims of the Youngstown Explosion and Their Families

In the aftermath of the deadly explosion at the Realty Tower building in Youngstown, several legal actions may be available to the victims and their families. 

“We are devastated to hear about the explosion that occurred this week in Ohio and the loss of life and injury it caused,” says Britt Strottman, attorney at Singleton Schreiber, “Our hearts go out to the families and victims affected. We hope that officials can swiftly determine the cause and make the area safe again for everyone. It is important that the victims and their families know that they may have legal recourse, and could consider reaching out to a personal injury attorney to learn more.” Attorney Britt Strottman represented San Bruno after a major gas explosion in 2010 and helped San Bruno with the NTSB investigation after that event and formally served as a Senior Assistant Attorney General at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. 

The specifics of the legal recourse available to victims and their families depend on the findings of the investigation and the determination of liability. Some potential actions may include:

  • Wrongful Death Claim – against the utility company, contractors or third parties, or even the building owner or management company
  • Personal Injury Claims – compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages from the negligent party
  • Product Liability Claims – against manufacturers, suppliers, or distributors of the defective product if it contributed to the cause of the explosion

And more. If you have lost a loved one in an explosion, or been injured in one, contact the attorneys at Singleton Schreiber today by emailing info@singletonschreiber.com.