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Contractor Pleads Guilty To Reckless Endangerment Following West Haverstraw Townhouse Explosion

West Haverstraw explosion (credit: CBS 2)

West Haverstraw explosion (credit: CBS 2)

WEST HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe announced two guilty pleas following the massive explosion that demolished part of a neighborhood in West Haverstraw back in January.

Contractor Fidel Padilla, 53, of 97 Croton Avenue, Cortlandt Manor pleaded guilty to felony reckless endangerment. His company, FGC Communications, Inc. pleaded guilty to felony assault.

Padilla’s company was hired as a subcontractor to help install Verizon FIOS cables. The procedure proceeded normally, the DA’s office said, until Padilla launched a device called a “mole” or “missile” underground as part of the excavation process. The missile struck a natural gas main and caused a leak.

The leak exploded, destroying the condo unit at 52 Zariello Lane.

Back in January, CBS 2’s Lou Young found the door to the place 50 yards from the hole in the ground where the townhouse used to stand.

Fortunately, the occupants were not at home at the time of the blast.

The contents of the house were spread to the four winds like the house itself, Young reported.

Fire Capt. Ken Paterson suffered burns on his face and hands, five broken ribs, a ruptured disc and a dislocated shoulder. Another firefighter and two O&R employees were also injured.

There were no fatalities in the explosion.

“This incident is particularly disturbing because it could have been prevented,” Zugibe said. “By violating applicable regulations and industry standards, these defendants nearly caused the deaths of four people and left several families homeless. Their careless and short-sighted decisions had the potential to cause serious loss of life.”

Sentencing is set for July 27.

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