Family of Former Penn Hills Man Killed in Youngstown Gas Explosion Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A tragic natural gas explosion claimed the life of Akil Drake, a 27-year-old former Penn Hills resident, at Realty Tower in Youngstown last month. The young man, who worked as a relationship banker at a JP Morgan Chase branch, lost his life in the blast. Following the incident, Drake’s family has taken legal action by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the property owners and the energy company involved in the explosion.

The explosion, which occurred on May 28, was the result of a natural gas supply line being inadvertently cut during maintenance work. The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the incident and has found that the crew working on the line was unaware that it was pressurized when they began their work. The tragic event left Drake trapped in the building and resulted in significant structural damage.

Drake’s family, represented by his sister from Charlotte, N.C., and his mother from Penn Hills, has named several defendants in the lawsuit. Among those named are YO Properties, LY Property Management, Greenheart Companies, Enbridge Gas Ohio, and Dominion Energy. The lawsuit includes claims of negligence on the part of these entities for their roles in the maintenance work that led to the explosion.

According to the complaint filed in Mahoning County, Ohio, the City of Youngstown had contracted contractors to replace sidewalks in the area near the Realty Tower. The maintenance work involved relocating utility lines from beneath the sidewalk to the building’s basement. The lawsuit alleges that Greenheart, the company hired for this task, failed to ensure the safety of the crew and adequately assess the situation before cutting into the pressurized gas line.

The lawsuit also details the events leading up to the explosion, noting that the crew, unaware of the pressurization of the pipes they were working on, accidentally caused a release of natural gas. Despite evacuating the area and pulling the fire alarm, the explosion occurred, resulting in the collapse of the building’s first floor and causing injuries to several individuals aside from Drake. The tragic incident has left his family and the community in mourning, seeking justice for his wrongful death.

As investigations into the Youngstown explosion continue, questions surrounding the safety protocols and procedures of maintenance work on gas lines have arisen. The lawsuit serves as a reminder of the consequences of negligence in such operations and the importance of prioritizing safety in all industrial practices. The tragic loss of Akil Drake serves as a somber reminder of the need for accountability in preventing such accidents in the future.