2018-07-26 / Front Page

Worker Killed In Letterkenny Army Depot Explosion

STAFF REPORT

An explosion that rattled everyone in Franklin County last Thursday at 7:20 a.m. at Letterkenny Army Depot in Franklin County has left four people injured and one deceased.

Eric Byers, 29, of New Garden Township, Chester County, was pronounced dead just after 7 p.m. on Thursday at Lehigh Valley Hospital after he was air lifted there for treatment, according to news sources. The coroner’s office ruled the death accidental, and said the cause was “thermal injuries due to fire.” According to a news source, Byers was handling chemicals when the explosion occurred.

Two others were air-lifted from the scene to Baltimore area hospitals and are now in stable condition. One was taken to a local hospital, and one man who checked himself into the hospital later for smoke inhalation was released the same day.

The July 19 explosion, which is still under investigation, according to Letterkenny Army Depot Cmdr. Col. Stephen Ledbetter, has not been deemed an act of terror. The fire caused by the explosion, which was extinguished within minutes, occurred in Building 350 in the paint area, which is mostly used for upkeep of vehicles and other ‘major end’ items. No ammunition was stored in the facility. Depot and local Franklin County responders assisted on the scene to put out the fire caused by the explosion. All employees were accounted for during a search.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of dedicated member of our LEAD family who was injured in Thursday’s explosion,” Col. Ledbetter, commander, stated in a news release issued July 20.

Roughly 300-400 people work in the building during the first shift, according to news sources. The depot employs approximately 3,600 people from several surrounding counties, including Fulton. Following the accident, chaplains and crisis counselors were made available for them.

Upon hearing about the accident, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster issued the following statement regarding the incident at Letterkenny: “… My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Letterkenny has an exemplary safety record, and I’m confident a thorough investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of this incident and how it can be prevented in the future ….”

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s office also released a statement: “… My thoughts are with those who are injured, their families, and the entire Letterkenny community.”

According to news sources, Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross said he notified the governor’s office and other stakeholders about the explosion. Team Letterkenny, an outside group that supports the depot, will be gathering more information before it assesses what it can contribute.

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