GHENT — More than 11 years after tragedy struck in Ghent, family and friends of the four men who perished on Jan. 30, 2007, returned to the scene of the accident to remember.
On that day, Capt. Fred Burroughs, 55, Craig Dorsey II, 24, Glenn Bennett, 44, and Jeffery Lee Treadway, 21, were killed instantly when a propane explosion leveled the Ghent Little General Store.
Bennett and Treadway, propane technicians, were at the store to remove a previous company’s tank from a dangerous location and place their company’s tank a safer distance from the store.
A faulty valve led to an uncontrollable leak and with the older propane tank so close to the side of the convenience store, the store quickly filled with gas.
At 10:43 a.m., Treadway reached out to 911 to report the leak and Burroughs and Dorsey quickly responded.
At approximately 10:55 a.m., a second alarm went out from the location, this time for the explosion which instantly killed the four men and seriously injured five other people at the site.
With debris from the accident still strewn over the ground, Hazel Burroughs, widow of Fred Burroughs, welcomed the guests to the memorial.
“There were times we thought it wouldn’t happen, but we’re very thankful that it did,” Hazel Burroughs said of the memorial before continuing. “Today we want to honor the four men who were killed here.”
Reading the names of the men, Hazel Burroughs reminded everyone that the event was to honor the men for the way they lived.
As tears quickly gathered in the eyes of the participants and audience, one by one the members of the individual families involved approached the memorial and unveiled their family member’s memorial plaque to the sounds of “Amazing Grace.”
For the Bennett family, the day was bittersweet.
“We’re glad to have it,” said Danielle Bennett, the daughter of Glenn Bennett. “It’s beautiful. There’s has been a lot of work put into it. We’re thankful and we’re glad to have something here.”
Danielle Bennett had traveled from Texas for the ceremony. Being at the location of the accident brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad.
“He was a great man,” she said. “Always helping. He was a good dad, husband and son.”
Glenn Bennett’s parents traveled from Florida where they now live, and the fallen man’s father seconded that belief.
“He’d give you the shirt off his back,” said Zach Bennett.
The elder Bennett had talked to his son the morning of the accident and was aware that he was headed to the Ghent store to move back the tank.
According to Zach Bennett, his son was always serving other people. Glenn Bennett had been in the Army and stationed in Korea for a couple of years guarding the intensely kept border.
After returning to West Virginia, he was a member of the National Guard and assisted in flood recovery.
The elder Bennett shared his relief that the memorial had been completed.
Hazel Burroughs felt the same way and said it was surreal to see the completed memorial.
“I’m really glad that it turned out as nicely as it did,” she said.
For the widow, the tragedy has brought a bit of goodness into the world, noting that the families have come together to help one another through the trauma.
“In tragedy, it brought four families together that would have never been together any other way,” Hazel Burroughs said.
“They didn’t die in vain,” Hazel Burroughs said. “Some people’s lives will be saved as a result of us losing them.”
Since the accident, new rules on propane safety have been issued at both the state and the federal levels.
The event has also been used as a training tool for propane professionals, first responders and even coal miners.
Hazel Burroughs also recognized Donnie Caldwell at the event.
Caldwell was one of those injured during the explosion, and although he survived the immediate aftermath, injuries that he suffered caused his death a few years later.
Story from The Register-Herald