Coroner identifies man killed in explosion at Letterkenny Army Depot; four others injured

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa.-- UPDATE (July 20, 2:51 p.m.): The Lehigh County Coroner's Office identified the victim who died of the injuries he sustained in the explosion as Eric Byers, 29, of Saltillo, Huntingdon County. The coroner says Byers was pronounced dead at Lehigh Valley Hospital Thursday at 7:12 p.m.

An autopsy performed Friday revealed Byers died of thermal injuries due to a fire. Byers was handling chemicals when a flash fire occurred, the coroner said.

UPDATE (July 20, 10:30 a.m.): One person is dead after Thursday morning's Letterkenny Army Depot explosion.

Depot commander, Col. Stephen Ledbetter said the following on Friday morning:

"It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of dedicated member of our LEAD family who was injured in Thursday’s explosion.” Two employees still remain hospitalized in critical but stable condition. On behalf of the families and workforce, the depot requests respect and privacy for all those involved."

Letterkenny posted the following message on their Facebook page:

PREVIOUSLY: Five people have been injured after a Thursday morning explosion at Letterkenny Army Depot near Chambersburg.

According to Col. Steven Ledbetter, the commander at Letterkenny, a small explosion and fire in the paint area of Building 350 left five people requiring medical assistance.

Three victims were taken to a Maryland hospital via a medivac in serious condition, and two were taken to a Chambersburg Hospital where they were treated and released.

Production was suspended in building 350 at the depot Thursday with plans to reopen third shift on Sunday. Officials want to make sure the building is safe before the 900 employees who work there return.

Colonel Ledbetter says this is the first industrial accident to happen at the depot in years. He credits safety drills and training for the quick thinking of employees and first responders who may have helped prevent this incident from being much worse.

Officials do not believe this was an act of terrorism but are still investigating what exactly cause the explosion.

Below is the press conference Ledbetter held Thursday afternoon:

Letterkenny Army Depot had posted several messages on their Facebook page this morning with different warnings and updates for employees, but removed them around 9:15 a.m.:

The Army Depot then added these posts to its page shortly after 11:00 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. respectively:

According to Herald Mail-Media, Building 350 is the depot's vehicle maintenance shop used to repair and upgrade military vehicles.

Governor Tom Wolf issued the following statement on the explosion:

"My first concern is for the expedient treatment of those injured and the safety of those working or visiting Letterkenny,” Gov. Wolf said. “I have been in touch with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, which has been working with county emergency officials to be sure the state is doing everything it can to help in this situation.
“First responders have been on the scene since just after the explosion and have advised that it was contained to a warehouse area. I am receiving updates to ensure that all needs are being met.”

Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey tweeted out their thoughts to those affected by this morning's incident: