2 Dead, 9 Injured in Gas Explosion at Minneapolis School
Contractors were working on one of the school’s buildings when the natural gas explosion occurred, causing part of it to collapse.
Two people are dead and nine are hospitalized following a natural gas explosion at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis on Wednesday.
According to CNN, the two victims were identified as 47-year-old Ruth Berg, a receptionist, and 81-year-old John Carlson, a part-time janitor.
Assistant Minneapolis Fire Chief Bryan Tyner says contractors were working on one of the campus’ buildings when the natural gas explosion occurred, causing part of the building to collapse.
The gas leak and subsequent explosion occurred in the campus’ Upper School which houses grades 9-12.
The contractors worked for Master Mechanical, Inc., and were issued a permit on June 7 for “gas piping and hooking up a meter”, according to NBC News.
Although as many as 10 students were playing basketball in the school’s gym, classes were not in session due to summer break.
“You can only imagine what it would have been like,” said Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel. “We were pretty lucky.”
Jack Mahler, a student at the school, was warming up for soccer practice at a nearby athletic field when he saw two men sprinting towards him yelling, “Gas! Get out!”
The explosion that followed knocked him off his feet.
The nine who were injured were taken to the nearby Hennepin County Medical Center. Five have since been discharged, three remain in satisfactory condition and one remains in critical condition.
Doctor Jim Miner, chief of emergency medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center, says those that were hospitalized suffered from blast-related injuries such as broken bones, cuts from flying debris, and injuries to arms, legs, ribs and vertebrae.
Remembering the Victims
Hundreds gathered for a vigil last night at the school’s chapel to remember the victims.
“Let this be a reminder to each and every one of us, no one got up this morning thinking that this was going to happen,” said a speaker at the vigil. “People were just going to work, people were just serving in their position.”
Others took to social media to share stories about the impact the victims had on the community.
“He is the sweetest man in the world,” one post from a student said about Carlson. “He once saw me crying and gave me a Dilly Bar and told me that tomorrow is a new day.”
Sherrie Jesse Heap Winkler, who identified herself as Berg’s sister, wrote, “Ruth often spoke of her friends and you meant the world to her. She also spoke of her job and co-workers a lot, and believe me when I say she loved you to bits and loved her work.”
The Christian academy is a pre-K through 12 private school with approximately 825 students.
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