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Family of youth killed in blast settles suit against gas company

Posted On: Jul. 10, 2019 10:51 AM CST

Legal settlement

(Reuters) — The family of a teenager killed during a 2018 gas explosion that injured a dozen others and destroyed scores of homes in three Boston suburbs settled its lawsuit against Columbia Gas of Massachusetts on Tuesday.

Leonel Rondon died when his car was crushed by a chimney that fell after the blast in a pipeline owned by Columbia Gas, a unit of NiSource Inc.

“He was only 18 years old and full of life,” Doug Sheff, an attorney who represents the Rondon family, said in a joint statement with Columbia Gas announcing the settlement.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The agreement was reached as a result of voluntary mediation between the parties, the statement said.

Mr. Sheff’s law firm will establish a scholarship fund designed to encourage an ongoing interest in public safety and community service. Columbia Gas will set up a separate scholarship fund in Leonel’s name, independent of the settlement, the statement said.

“We remain heartbroken over the tragic loss of Leonel Rondon and again express our deepest sympathy to his family and to the entire community,” said Joe Hamrock, chief executive of NiSource Inc., the parent company of Columbia Gas.

Investigators suspected that overpressurization of the gas main led to the series of explosions and fires in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence that left more than 18,000 homes and businesses without power.