PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two people that reportedly suffered physical and emotional injuries after a 2016 gas explosion in Portland were awarded more than $10.4 million by a Multnomah County jury on Thursday.
Eric Rader, a gas leak investigator at NW Natural, was awarded $3.9 million, while Dosha Salon stylist Kristen Prentice was given $6.5 million. A Multnomah County jury found that Loy Clark Pipeline Co. was liable for the damages.
The explosion, which took place on Oct 19, 2016 and was caused when an excavator struck a buried gas pipeline, occurred near NW 23rd and Glisan, destroying multiple buildings. Three firefighters, two police officers and three others were injured in the explosion.
“I’ve been a firefighter for 28 years and I have not seen devastation like this,” then PF&R Chief Mike Myers said at the time. “If it wasn’t for the efforts of a few firefighters today, and a very special leader in our organization who made some very serious and very important decisions, I’m afraid we’d be having a different discussion.”
“People were trying to put it in the Comcast box, and they hit a gas line and boom, there goes a historic building, and a building next to it gets blown out,” said lawyer Mark McDougal
Rader reportedly found high gas levels inside a nearby bagel shop and warned first responders to flee the scene.
“People were trying to put it in the Comcast box, and they hit a gas line and boom, there goes a historic building, and a building next to it gets blown out,” said lawyer Mark McDougal, who represented both the plaintiffs. “It was a very traumatic experience for many, including the firefighters on the scene.”
“The reading on his gas meter indicated extreme risk,” Greg Kafoury, an attorney for Rader and Prentice. “Rader notified nearby first responders, saving many who might otherwise have been consumed by the inferno.”
Prentice was a half-block away at the time of the explosion. Both she and Rader reportedly developed PTSD from the trauma of the explosion, as well as severe inner-ear injuries, which have left them with permanent hearing loss and sensitivity to loud noises, according to Kafoury.
Prentice has largely been unable to work due to physical and emotional damage she suffered in the explosion, Kafoury said.
The jury also found that the four workers for Clark Pipeline Company failed to see the paint markings, indicating a gas line was right underneath the area they were excavating.
“There’s just so many things that went wrong here. The number of mistakes, the number of corners cut, is just amazing,” McDougal said. “The fact they didn’t take accountability for it, didn’t try to resolve it in a meaningful net fashion, just shows that they’re willing to do it again.”