The lawsuit against Speedway filed this month involves an October 20, 2017, explosion at Knolls condo complex in Willowbrook, Illinois, that injured 2 people, one of whom, Margaret Rice, was severely injured. Ms. Rice was doing laundry in one of the condo buildings when leaked gas ignited. Investigators believe the gas had leaked from tanks at a Speedway station located at 6241 S. Cass Ave. in Westmont, IL.
Illinois Attorney General Files Lawsuit against Speedway LLC
— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) November 4, 2017
The Illinois Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit against Speedway LLC. In the lawsuit, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin asked the court to require that Speedway station located at 6241 S. Cass Ave. in Westmont, IL remain closed while air monitoring is conducted at any affected homes and that any contamination from the gasoline release is addressed.
A statement from the Attorney General’s office about the Speedway lawsuit stated:
“Officials believe the Knoll Condominiums explosion was the result of gasoline vapors being ignited by a laundry dryer…. Following the explosions, Speedway emptied the leaking storage tank and removed the affected tank and remaining underground storage tanks. In the complaint, Madigan and Berlin ask the court to require Speedway to take steps to control any gasoline released at the site and to continue working to evaluate and remediate any soil or groundwater contamination. The lawsuit also asks for civil penalties.”
For more information, read: “Illinois EPA: Speedway Knew of Gas Leaks Days before Explosion.”
Knolls Condominium Explosion
On Thursday, October 19, authorities received multiple reports of a foul smell in the neighborhoods surrounding the Speedway station. Some of the calls came from the Knolls condominium complex, a mile away from the Speedway station. That night, authorities made three trips to the Knolls complex, located in the 6100 block of Knollwood Road in Willowbrook, but could not find the source of the odor.
The following morning, Margaret Rice, 81, was doing laundry. When she put coins into the gas dryer, the machine exploded blowing out one wall of the laundry room and throwing Rice into the hallway.
Burning debris started a fire in the laundry room. The force of the blast was so strong that it separated a staircase from the back wall of the building. Another resident sustained minor injuries while rushing to help Rice who suffered injuries and was hospitalized at Loyola University Medical Center. The other injured person was treated at the scene.
Recovery from Blast Burns More Challenging for Older Adults
“Recovery from a burn injury can be a long road at any age,” said Fred Pritzker, an attorney who represents people who have been burned and otherwise injured in explosions. For people over 65, there are increased challenges, he said. Age slows the skin’s healing process and with that comes an increased risk of infection and other complications.