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One Dead, 7 Injured After Apparent Gas Leak Causes an Explosion at Ohio Bank.

One man is dead and more than a half dozen injured after an explosion at a Chase Bank in downtown Youngstown, Ohio. Emergency crews were called to the scene after reports of a loud "boom" and an explosion rocked the center of the downtown area just before 3 o'clock in the afternoon Tuesday May 28, 2024.

Construction workers in the 100 year old building say that they heard a hissing noise from natural gas and called 911, racing out of the building minutes before it exploded.

The explosion was caught on surveillance cameras from a nearby business and, we will warn you. It is shocking to witness.

The closest fire station to this area is within walking distance and fire crews arrived within four minutes to the scene. They were able to evacuate workers from the bank on the first floor as well as residents in the apartments from the floors above. Seven people were taken to an area hospital with some of them in critical condition. Shortly after the blast, news began circulating around town. That's when officials say they received a call from a woman stating that her husband had gone to work at the bank that morning but wasn't accounted for among the injured. There was also a woman who wasn't accounted for initially as well. She was later found to be in the emergency department of another local hospital while the man was still missing.

Akil Drake

That man was later found dead under a pile of rubble.

According to WKBN, the man who died, 27-year-old Akil Drake, was an employee of the Chase Bank branch in the building. He was found in the basement of the building at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday according to Fire Chief Barry Finley.

Finley said he did not want to leave the scene Tuesday night until the man’s body was recovered.

“We were not going to leave until we found him. We were going to be there as long as it took.”

Video from an officer’s body camera showed the moments when rescuers got on the scene and began pulling people from the building.

“They went room by room, floor by floor, to make sure everyone got out of that building, and they did it twice,” Finley said.

The entire city and its officials were saddened by the news of Drake's passing. Chase Bank released a statement saying:

“The JPMorgan Chase family mourns the loss of our colleague. Our hearts go out to their family as well as our injured employees, their families and others affected by this tragedy. We will continue to work with local officials to support them.”

Residents from the apartments in the building sought shelter and services at the nearby convention center. All of them grateful to have escaped with their lives but, uncertain of their future. The explosion and building structure are still under investigation. There is no word yet when, or if, residents will be allowed back into the building to collect their valuables. Residents of a nearby apartment building were evacuated for safety but later allowed to return home.

The blast halted transportation services for about 24 hours to the city because buses were not allowed to return to the terminal blocks away from the area. The Double Tree Hotel, which sits on the corner across the street from the explosion, was evacuated. Guests in that hotel were directed to a local Holiday Inn a few miles away and offered lodging there.

Janette Bowers is from Indiana, teaching a course to local students, and staying at the DoubleTree.

“Well I was teaching at the time at the Choffin School of Nursing and then came back and everything was shut off, so didn’t have any contact with hotel staff so found my way to a hotel,” she said.

Her belongings are still inside the DoubleTree.

A press conference was held today with the city's mayor, Jamael Tito Brown, Fire Chief Finley and Police Chief Davis.

Youngstown Professional Firefighters Local 312 President Jon Racco released the following statement:

“Within 4 minutes of the initial dispatch, arriving firefighters were performing rescues, saving lives, and rendering aid to those in need. Local 312 could not be more proud of our members and the bravery they showed in those times of despair.

Our firefighters value and love this city; the work that was done at the Realty Building should serve as a reminder of the constant heroism, professionalism and strength performed by our firefighters in the face of adversity on a daily basis.

Our hearts and prayers are with all those affected, especially those who lost their loved one. Local 312 would also like to thank those area first responders who rushed to the scene to assist us in this tragedy.

To all people of this great city, your Youngstown Firefighters stand ready to serve, like always, and appreciate your support. The calls, texts, and embraces have proven what the word community really means.”

This city is small but strong and every single person who lives here is resilient. We believe that the city will rebuild and be stronger than ever.

Our condolences to the family of Mr. Akil Drake.


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