Dallas girl killed in explosion seen on video prior to blast
DALLAS (AP) — The family of a 12-year-old girl who died in a natural gas explosion at her Dallas home has released cellphone video the girl recorded in the minutes leading up to the blast.
Linda “Michellita” Rogers is shown in three separate short videos last year preparing her hair and wearing her uniform in preparation for a cheerleading event.
She speaks quietly so as not to wake her family in the early-morning hours. The last video, shot in hyper speed as she braided her hair, was recording when the explosion occurred Feb. 23.
Her mother and three other family members escaped the rubble of the home with injuries. Michellita died at a hospital after being carried from the debris.
Her autopsy report indicated she was in the living room at the time of the blast and exposed to its full force, The Dallas Morning News reported. Family members were in bedrooms with walls protecting them.
The National Transportation Safety Board found that Atmos Energy had received complaints weeks before the explosion of gas leaks in the neighborhood. The company in a court filing has denied it failed to adequately respond to leaks in the area.
“The heartbreaking incident on Espanola Drive that resulted in the death of 12-year-old Linda Rogers continues to weigh heavily on everyone at the company,” Atmos President and CEO Mike Haefner said in a statement Wednesday. “We live in the same communities where we work. Our families, friends and neighbors live in the very homes we serve. We are intensely dedicated to safety.”
The family has sued Atmos for $1 million in damages and that lawsuit is pending.
Atmos crews had been in the neighborhood several times in the week leading to the explosion, the newspaper reported, and there were two fires at houses that shared an alley with Michellita’s home.
The incidents eventually led authorities to evacuate the neighborhood and Atmos shut off service to about 2,800 homes. At least 28 natural gas leaks were discovered in the area.
Atmos said at the time that heavy rain, shifting clay soil and aging, inflexible steel pipes contributed to the leaks.
Michellita was one of nine people who have died since 2006 when two dozen homes serviced by Atmos pipelines blew up in North and Central Texas, according to the newspaper. At least 22 more people were badly injured.