Explosion at Coryell Memorial Hospital leaves one dead, 12 injured

By LYNETTE SOWELL

Cove Leader-Press

 

At approximately 3 p.m. on Tuesday, an explosion rocked a construction site at Coryell Memorial Hospital in Gatesville, killing one construction worker and injuring 12 others.

The hospital and neighboring nursing home and assisted living facility were evacuated with the assistance of local emergency responders, along with other agencies beyond Coryell County.

At 5:45 p.m., Coryell County officials along with representatives of Coryell Memorial Hospital held a press conference.

“There were some serious injuries. They have been evacuated to Parkland and other various hospitals, along with other patients,” said Coryell County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Harrell.

The name of the construction worker killed was not released pending notification of the family.

There were 12 acute care patients in the hospital at the time of the blast, as well as a total of 150 residents in The Oaks at Coryell along with The Meadows nursing home, who were all evacuated.

Dr. Jeff Bates was the physician on site, and he said the hospital’s current patients were moved to a hospital in Clifton, with CMH nurses accompanying them, and he was going to Clifton to check on them for continuity of care.

Bates said the major trauma patients injured in the explosion were evacuated by helicopter and ambulance, with the critically injured sent to the burn unit in Parkland Hospital. ER patients at CMH were sent to the hospital in Clifton.

Coryell Memorial Health System CEO David Byrom also addressed the media, stating that no staff or patients were injured due to the explosion.

Byrom said the new construction area is extremely damaged, and he saw some damage to The Meadows as a result of the explosion’s shock wave.

Adolphus & Peterson, the Dallas-based construction company is on site examining the damage, as is a crew from the state fire marshal’s office. A subcontractor, which Byrom did not name, was on site working when the explosion took place.

Byrom praised the staff onsite who immediately began the process of both evacuating residents and patients, along with seeing to the injured.

“Our staff, with all the support we have in the community and surrounding areas, I can’t tell you how quickly they responded,” Byrom said. “We had triage area set up out back. We were triaging folks with our medical staff and nurses there.”

The hospital along with its other facilities are shut down, for the time being, said Byrom. All facilities will be assessed for structural damage along with damage to infrastructure such as gas lines and electrical lines. Byrom said the hospital’s main generator was not damaged and its computer systems are running.

Nursing home residents have been moved to other nursing homes. Some assisted living residents were taken to Coryell Community Church and the Methodist Church in Gatesville. Support staff were sent with transported nursing home residents, and families were also being notified.

At the time of the explosion, Byrom said he and others were in a board meeting

“It was a tremendous blast. It felt like a bomb exploded.”

There was initially a fire with the blast, but it was quickly extinguished by the volunteer fire department, Byrom said.

Another press conference will take place on Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. in the Coryell County Commissioners courtroom.

 

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