Frank and Alice Pitchler, both 86 at the time where relaxing in their home with their dog on a January night in 2009, when their home suddenly exploded and their lives took a traumatic turn.
While the Pitchlers were rescued by a pair of snowplow drivers who had been working in the area when the blast occurred, Alice tragically died the following day and Frank was hospitalized with terrible injuries until March of that same year.
According to John Kosich who is a reporter for newsnet5.com, he was at work that evening when calls started coming in about an earthquake in the Eastlake area. He says, “We would soon realize they were one in the same, the rumbling felt for miles around that people mistook for an earthquake was actually the Pitchler’s home exploding.”
According to News-Herald, “Frank filed a suit in 2011, claiming the utility negligently installed a device which caused the blast.” Frank was seeking to simply be reimbursed for the cost of his home, hospital bills, funeral services and mental anguish. Frank later died, but his estate, with the help of attorneys, Friedman, Domiano and Smith, refilled the lawsuit which went to trial this past Monday and was later settled.
The suit stated that, “employees improperly inserted a plastic pipe into a gas service line next to the home. Excessive force was placed on the pipe, which at some point cracked, allowing a large amount of gas to escape the gas line.”
According to News-Herald, “The gas traveled through the ground and up to the house, where it was ignited by a spark from a kitchen appliance motor.” The suit states that this caused, “a catastrophic explosion and fire that leveled the Pitchler’s home and destroyed all their belongings”.
For the surviving Pitchler family members, the suit was not about money, but about justice, and we are very happy to have reached a settlement this week.
According to our very own Jeff Friedman, “The amount is confidential, but I believe the family was satisfied…You can’t bring either of their parents back, but it’s closure and maybe will help others in the community. Let me put it this way: If I lived there, I would certainly check my gas lines.” The dog survived and now lives with son Frank.