Nearly two years after a deadly gas explosion rocked their community, Minnehaha Academy students and staff went back to school at a newly constructed upper campus last week. The 2017 blast demolished the main building of the school’s upper campus, which then triggered a two-story collapse. Two employees, custodian John Carlson (82) and receptionist Ruth Berg (47), died in the blast. Nine other people sustained injuries, including leg amputation, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Before the completion of the new upper campus, students temporarily attended class at Brown College in Mendota Heights. The re-imagined upper campus honors the deceased and incorporates features of the original building. Two wooden benches sit in the lobby with memorial plaques that honor Carlson and Berg. School officials plan to place stained glass windows above the benches with elements of their personalities. Flooring includes tile from the original 1913 building to honor the school’s heritage. “We celebrate the comfort that coming home brings,” said the school’s President, Donna Harris, who was among those injured.
The first day of school at Minnehaha is always a wonderfully exciting day. This year was especially thrilling, as we welcomed our Upper School students to the rebuilt Upper School. Media were on hand to witness this historic event. #MyMinnehaha https://t.co/0Mmaby9CVa
— Minnehaha Academy (@MinnehahaAcad) August 23, 2019
Minnehaha Academy Gas Explosion
On August 2nd, 2017, a natural gas explosion sparked when workers from Master Mechanical attempted to remove a gas meter from the school’s basement, at the direction of CenterPoint Energy. Before disconnecting the gas service line from inside the meter, the workers did not close shut-off valves that would have prevented gas from flowing into the building once the line became disconnected. Additionally, CenterPoint Energy did not install special valves to automatically shut down gas flow and prevent an explosion. The gas ignited around 10:22 AM and the building exploded, killing two people and injuring several others.
Gas Explosion Lawsuit
Our team of explosion lawyers filed a wrongful death lawsuit against CenterPoint Energy and Master Mechanical on behalf of the family of Ruth Berg, the receptionist killed in the explosion. The case was settled confidentially on mutually agreed-upon terms.
Our explosion lawyers help victims and families who suffered a burn injury or death get the compensation and justice they deserve. We also advocate for reforms that need to take place in order to help prevent burn injuries and explosion deaths. Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman appeared on WCCO-TV to discuss the ongoing problem of gas line leaks and explosions. Pritzker Hageman called for increased transparency and quicker reporting of gas line leaks to help people protect themselves.