HOUSTON—A rural Montgomery County family has filed suit against the propane company it believes is responsible for a devastating home explosion last June that killed two women and critically injured an 8-month-old boy.
Sisters-in-law Lena Mock Knight, 65, and Jennifer Jane Mock, 55, died from their injuries when Lena’s home in Dobbin exploded the morning of June 11, 2013. The debris field stretched more than 100 yards. Neighbors and passersby helped rescue Jennifer Mock’s grandson Wyatt Smith from the rubble. He survived but suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 55 percent of his body.
He spent several weeks in the hospital, underwent multiple procedures, and bears permanent scars from the incident.
“I just want to make sure that no other family ever goes through something like this. Ever,” said Lena Mock Knight’s daughter Jennifer Kennemer at a Friday afternoon news conference to announce the lawsuit against Triangle B Corp., the propane supplier to the home.
The day before the explosion an employee of Triangle B Propane re-filled the family’s 100 gallon above ground propane tank. The worker then proceeded to light pilot lights for the family inside their home. A resulting investigation by the Railroad Commission of Texas found that a leak test was not performed that morning, nor was one performed at previous visits to the residence by the same company in 2008 and 2010. A test for a potential leak is required by state law. The lawsuit alleges that the propane leaked beneath the home through aged and corroded lines until one of the women tried to use the stove the next morning. When the propane tank was later inspected it contained 43 of the original 100 gallons. The lawsuit alleges that more than 50 gallons leaked under the house, leached into the soil, and then ignited leading to an explosion that could be heard as far away as The Woodlands.
“We’re not trying to change the law or come up with new rules,” said attorney Brant Stogner. “This is a situation where all we’re asking is all those involved with combustible gases follow the laws that exist. Had they done that none of us would be here.”
”If it was your wife and sister, how would you feel?” said Daniel Mock. Lena Mock Knight was his sister. Jennifer Jane Mock was his wife of 37 years. “It’s just devastating. It will never be the same. It’s just destroyed your life.”
”So just please do your leak test and that’s all I ask,” said Kennemer. “Just nobody ever have to go through this again. Because this is something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.”
With multiple injuries including severe burns both women died in the hospital of organ failure several days after the blast.
Triangle B Propane, a company headquartered in Richards, Texas did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.