Woman seriously injured in Middletown apartment explosion reported gas smell days prior, father says

Updated: Dec. 4, 2019 at 11:40 PM EST
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MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (FOX19) - The father of the woman most severely injured in the apartment explosion in Middletown on Monday says the incident could possibly have been avoided.

Brittany Vanderpool, 31, is still in the hospital recovering from the explosion and the building collapse that followed in the 400 block of Cribbs Avenue.

Previously | 1 injured in explosion, collapse at Middletown building, officials say

The worst part, says her father, Ronnie, is her back.

“They did surgery on that the other night at Atrium Medical Center, fused her back together,” Ronnie told FOX19 NOW. “Took about three hours.”

Ronnie says Brittany also has cuts, lacerations and bruises all over her body, as well as burnt hair and two black eyes.

Brittany Vanderpool sustained serious injuries during the Middletown apartment explosion.
Brittany Vanderpool sustained serious injuries during the Middletown apartment explosion.(Provided)

Undoubtedly it’s a hard thing for a father to see. It’s even harder for Ronnie knowing Brittany had only been living in the apartment a month—and harder still as he says the injuries might have been avoidable.

Brittany, he says, reported smelling gas a few days before the explosion occurred.

“She had called maintenance,” Ronnie explained, “and they said they went up there and found nothing wrong with it. But obviously there is something wrong, because she’s in the hospital in serious condition.”

He says she smelled it again just before the explosion happened, when she woke briefly in her bed to the odor of natural gas.

“The next thing she remembered was screaming, her whole apartment building exploded, nobody else’s, just hers,” Ronnie said. “And it blew out the front, it blew out, and she was laying at the bottom of all the debris. Thank God there was a guy there brave enough to go pull her out of the debris and carry her to his house.”

Duke Energy said on Monday gas technicians tested and checked natural gas lines in the area, but that no natural gas leaks on their lines were detected.

FOX19 NOW reached out to Duke Energy officials again Wednesday night. They released the following statement.

"We are continuing our investigation and working closely with emergency response agencies and local authorities to determine the cause of Monday's incident. At this time, we have no information whether or not any Duke Energy infrastructure was involved."

As for Brittany, Ronnie says she’ll probably be in the hospital for another week. He also says she’ll have to wear the brace on her back for about six months.

“You would never expect that be your daughter,” he said. “Here you’re seeing the news and everything… and the building... It’s just a miracle she’s still here.”

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