Soulard boiler explosion claims life of 4th victim

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Monday’s boiler explosion in Soulard has claimed another victim. The St. Louis Medical Examiner’s Office tells FOX 2 that the fourth victim died at St. Louis University Hospital Wednesday. He has been identified as 53-year-old Clifford Lee of St. Louis.

Kenneth Trentham, 59, Tonya Gonzalez-Suarez, 43 and Christopher Watkins, 46, were all pronounced dead at the scene.

According to police, the victims were killed after a large boiler exploded through the roof of the Loy-Lange Box Company located at 222 Russell Boulevard. It caused a major collapse.

Trentham and a Lee were inside the building at the time.

A large section of the boiler entered the roof of Faultless Healthcare Linen at 2030 S. Broadway, where Gonzalez-Suarez, Watkins and a fifth victim were inside as well.

Another piece of the boiler entered the roof of Pioneer Industrial at 400 Russell causing damage. No one was hurt.

The Bomb and Arson Unit responded and the investigation is ongoing.

Faultless released this statement about the boiler explosion:

“We are grateful for the assistance of the Office of the Mayor, the Office of the Medical Examiner, St. Louis Police and Fire Departments in all their work in service to the Faultless Healthcare Linen employees who died or were injured in the reported Loy Lange explosion – Tonya Gonzalez-Suarez and Christopher Watkins, who were married to each other, died of their injuries. Authorities have not released the names of the injured including our employee who is hospitalized in critical condition.

We are so very sorry for the loss and sorrow this has caused their families and we grieve with them. We also are greatly encouraged and comforted by the immediate and heartfelt response of our community. So many have already reached out wanting to support these families with their devastating loss.

The Sons & Daughters of Soulard, a group of charitable- and community-minded business leaders based in Soulard, were among the first to offer their aid and have graciously taken the lead in setting up a relief fund to benefit the families. Information about that fund will be made available shortly.

We reopened our plant and welcomed our employees back by midday Tuesday, April 4. Though it will take all of us some time to get through this experience, it is good to be together doing our work.”

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