Moore Township, PA – Pennsylvania State Police today said the Moore Township explosion Feb. 14 that killed a 65-year-old man was caused by a liquid propane gas leak.
The blast at the Hickory Hills mobile home park off Route 512 was determined to be an accident, state Trooper Bart Josefowicz said in a news release this morning.
William Donald Neith Sr., who lived at 118 Hickory Hills Drive, was killed in the explosion. His son has retained an attorney, who said an independent investigation is open into the explosion.
No criminal charges will be filed in the case, Josefowicz said. He wouldn’t provide more details on the leak or how it happened.
Northampton County Coroner Zachary Lysek said Neith died of blunt force trauma, but said an investigation was underway to determine the manner of death.
Residents of the mobile home park, owned by Illinois-based Continental Communities, have expressed a growing fear that concerns, specifically when it comes to propane, are not being addressed by ownership.
Josefowicz said complaints should be addressed to Hickory Hills management. Some residents have been moved off the development’s centralized propane system and are getting individual tanks, he said.
A call for comment to Robert Fitzgerald, president of Continental Communities, was not returned.
Benjamin Lichtman, an attorney retained by Neith’s son, William Neith Jr., said he’s conducting his own investigation into the fatal explosion. Lichtman said his Allentown-based law firm intends to pinpoint who is responsible for the deadly blast.
“With all of our modern technology, safety precautions and regulations, houses do not abruptly explode like this without the negligence or recklessness of someone intervening,” he said in an email. “I am confident that we will find the cause of this horrific explosion, and determine who is responsible.”
The next step, Lichtman said, would be to seek justice.
“When we do, we will pursue every avenue available to us under the law, to ensure that proper safeguards are put in place to prevent this from ever happening to another family in our community, and to recover compensation for the tragic loss and wrongful death of Mr. Neith,” Lichtman said.
State police Cpl. Shawn Hilbert, a fire marshal, said today that investigators were unable to determine what sparked the explosion.
“We’ll never know for sure,” he said. “There are so many possibilities with that type of home.”
Hilbert said because the leak was determined accidental, no further details are being released about it.
“We’re not here to assign blame,” Hilbert said. “Our job is to determine the cause and whether it or not it was accidental.”
The fire marshal said it will be up to residents and the family of Neith whether to pursue civil action in the case.
Lichtman said he believes findings by the state police confirm his concerns about the explosion.
“The state police report confirms what my client and I believe: that this explosion was negligently caused by an absolutely avoidable propane leak,” Lichtman said. “This is one more step towards getting justice for Mr. Neith, and ensuring that this doesn’t happen to other families.”