Residents Demand Answers As West Haverstraw Explosion Investigation Continues

WEST HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police in Rockland County say they’re still investigating Monday’s massive explosion that demolished part of a neighborhood in West Haverstraw. Residents continue to demand answers.

Utility workers are still trying to undo the damage to a gas main, which was punctured Monday by a subcontractor for Verizon FIOS. That incident is now under criminal investigation. The leak led to the massive explosion and, now, residents are clamoring for an arrest.

“Someone has to be accountable for this. It’s like an earthquake went through here,” Natalie Lowry said.

CBS 2’s Lou Young found the door to 52 Zariella Lane 50 yards from the hole in the ground where the townhouse used to stand. The family next door, meanwhile, came back to pick up clothing Thursday. Their place it still standing, but barely.

“My kids, my kids were here. It’s amazing. You got to appreciate more and more that the fireman did their job and by the graces of God we were saved. Everybody here was saved,” blast victim Landry Rodriguez said.

The closer you get to the site of the blast, the more apparent the power of it becomes. The contents of the house were spread to the four winds like the house itself. The fear has been palpable in the neighborhood. Some residents have refused to go back.

“My house was the next to go. They told me that. They told me I could go in now but, hell, I’m not going in until they’re outta here,” Joanna Pocchiaro said.

Fire Capt. Ken Paterson is the only victim still hospitalized, for burns on his face and hands, five broken ribs, a ruptured disc and a dislocated shoulder.

“He got banged up pretty good. He got banged up. He told us he was very sore and so forth. But he’s getting plenty of attention over there, let’s say that,” West Haverstraw Mayor John Ramundo said.

The miracle on Zariella Lane is that no was killed. The residents want assurances from the town that someone will be held accountable. A meeting was being held to discuss the issue at the West Haverstraw Village Hall Thursday night.

Who should be held accountable?  Share your thoughts in the comments section…

  • Fred Chaleff

    Verizon, for hiring unskilled contractors when they have there own skilled workforce

    • lbh

      Definitely! The contractor VZ used has been operating in NYS for less than a year. People can look forward this sort of thing happening a lot more if Verizon is able to bust the unions by contracting work out at will. Quality customer service and public safetly will go out the window just so Exec’s can fill their pockets with more millians in bonuses.

  • Larry Floss

    I owned a contracting business for many years here in Rockland and did many excavation jobs on public as well as privately owned roads and developments. I can tell you that no matter where the work is to take place, the phone call to have a utility mark out performed before excavation begins is an absolute must. First, it is a free call, any utility companies that may have utilities buried in the area will be happy to come out and perform a mark out. Second, the contractor would simply be covering all bases by making the call and that includes the safety aspect. The safety of himself, his workers and the property owner where the work is being done. And third, if a mark out is NOT performed and the contractor damages any utility, then he may be held liable to pay for the cost of the utility repair. And when the call is made to do a mark out, the contractor receives a case number as well as the names of all utility companies that may have buried utilities there. And the contractor must give three days notice before excavation commences, not two days. That means if he calls on a Monday for a mark out, he technically cannot begin until Friday, because the day of the phone call is not considered one of the three days. By simply making a free call for a free mark out and waiting a few days to be sure excavation can be done safely, maybe this unfortunate accident in West Haverstraw could have been totally avoided.

    • Bullett

      One Call 1-800-272-1000

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