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4th person dies after boiler explosion at St. Louis business

This Monday, April 3, 2017 photo from video by KMOV shows damage to the roof of a box company in St. Louis after a boiler exploded and flew before crashing through the roof of a nearby laundry business. Authorities said several people were killed as a result of the explosion. (KMOV via AP)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A fourth person has died from injuries suffered when a boiler exploded at a St. Louis business and crashed through the roof of a nearby business, the St. Louis medical examiner’s office said Thursday.

Clifford Lee, 53, of St. Louis, died Wednesday at St. Louis University Hospital, the medical examiner said.

Lee was with two friends Monday filling out new employee paperwork at Faultless Linen Co. when the boiler that weighed about 2,000 pounds (907.19 kilograms) exploded at nearby Loy-Lange Box Co., flew through the air and crashed through the linen company’s roof, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported ( ).

His friends, Christopher Watkins, 46, and Tonya Suarez-Gonzalez, 43, a married couple from St. Ann, Missouri, died at the scene.

A Loy-Lange engineer, Kenneth Trentham, 59, also died in the blast. Trentham was one of three engineers at the company licensed to operate boilers. He was hired to work at Loy-Lange in 1996, according to Maggie Crane, a spokeswoman for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.

Another employee of Loy-Lange remained hospitalized Thursday in critical but stable condition.

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and local authorities are investigating the cause of the explosion.

A three-person investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board has joined the investigation. CSB Chairwoman Vanessa Sutherland said in a news release the CSB investigators will be examining “what, if any, safeguards were in place to protect the workers at the Loy-Lange Box Company, as well as for those in the adjoining building.”

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson has said he believes the explosion was a commercial accident.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

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