SOUTH NYACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A contract worker pleaded not guilty Monday to charges in connection with an explosion at Nyack College in Rockland County.
Douglas Walker, of South Nyack, was released without bail after his arraignment, according to the Journal News. The newspaper said Walker’s attorney declined to comment.
Walker is due back in court in September.
Walker, 44, of South Nyack, was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment and assault in connection with the June 4 explosion.
Although few details were offered about Walker in the days leading up to the explosion, his actions were believed to have been unintentional, but Police Chief Brent Newbury said “he should have been more responsible,” the Journal News reported.
Officials said a gap in an underground gas connection may have contributed to the explosion. A day after the blast, crews had found evidence of recent excavation and heavy equipment work on the ground above the steel service pipe which had pulled free of its connection to the gas main.
The blast shattered windows and caused a fire that was extinguished by an in-house sprinkler system. Orange & Rockland Utilities had to cut electricity to several hundred. Gas service also was disrupted to dozens of customers.
The damage on the lower levels of the 1920s-era Sky Island Lounge building was intense, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported at the time. Inside, structural columns were moved and the stairs shifted.
Seven people were injured. Graduate student Tasha Bastone was the most seriously wounded, and had to be treated for a shattered leg she suffered when she jumped from the second floor.
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