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Child killed in Brooke Co. house explosion

Updated: Friday, October 11 2013, 04:59 PM EDT

By: NEWS9, Jennifer Black and Jon Rudder

FOLLANSBEE, W.Va. --

A 13-year-old girl was killed and at least three wounded in an explosion at a home in Brooke County on Friday.

The explosion happened just around 7 a.m. at a home on the corner of Eldersville and Walker roads in the Hooverson Heights neighborhood of Follansbee.

Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson confirmed to NEWS9 that the family's last name is Mozingo. A friend of the family said 13-year-old Hannah Mozingo perished in the explosion.

Brooke County Schools Superintendent Kathy Kidder said a counseling team was available Friday for students and staff in the school system.

A Weirton ambulance transported Hannah's mother and sister to Trinity West in Steubenville. In addition, Hannah's father, George, was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital by medical helicopter with serious burns. Her brother was not home at the time.

The explosion was heard and felt across the Ohio Valley, from WTOV9's station in Steubenville and even to parts of Belmont County. Debris was scattered for hundreds of yards around the area.

Friday afternoon, emergency crews remained at the scene working to learn the cause. Jackson said the investigation is ongoing, but it appears to have been a natural gas explosion.

Officials said they received calls from a neighbor reporting a gas smell and crews were in the area just minutes before the explosion.

"We had received a call of a natural gas odor in the area, very shortly prior to. Moments, minutes prior to the explosion, we had fire companies here. It was under investigation and within moments we had the explosion," Jackson said.

The area near 2481 Eldersville Road has been roped off, and there was damage to neighboring homes as well. At least six nearby homes were severely damaged, and some are not livable.

The official cause remains under investigation and the state fire marshal said his crews are still checking lines in the area. Eldersville Road from Mahan Lane to Walker Road is closed to all traffic except residents who live in that area and emergency personnel.

Jackson said, "It is an apparent natural gas explosion, but we're not saying that at this time. It has to be investigated by the fire marshal's office, by our office and by the local fire companies who will assist us."

Mountaineer Gas Co. issued the following statement just before 5 p.m. Friday:

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to the affected families in Follansbee, WV. Regarding the home explosion in Follansbee this morning, it’s still too early to determine the cause.  We have surveyed the area, and there do not appear to be any safety concerns at this time.  While all the facts are being determined, we want to assure the public we are on the scene with the Fire Marshal and local emergency officials. We will continue to work in conjunction with the Fire Marshal as he makes his determinations and recommendations.   As the situation unfolds and we have more information, we will provide additional updates.”

Shocked neighbors spoke to NEWS9 about the confusion after the explosion.

Ronald Bottorf, a neighbor said, "We'd just stepped out of bed and I thought it was a thunderstorm or something."

"I was just getting up and getting my kid ready for school. He came running down and said, 'Dad, what did you do?' I said, 'I don't know what happened,'" Matt McEvoy said.

Chris Grishkevich, a close friend of the Mozingo family, is one of several people organizing donations to help the family.

He said he's known Hannah's father since they were in high school, and the shock of what's happened is difficult to take in.

"It's something you see on a movie," Grishkevich, of Follansbee, said. "It's just crazy how gas can build up and ... just destroy a house. Destroy a family."

He said the Mozingos were a close-knit family who would do anything for one another.

"They were extremely close. George would do anything for his kids. Drive across the country for them. His one daughter was in the band. So he did anything and everything at Brooke High School," Grishkevich said.

Donations to the Mozingo family can be sent to the following:

--Chris Grishkevich is collecting donations to help the family, including food, clothing or anything else people might want to donate.
Donations can be sent to:
CJ Grishkevich
2411 Eldersville Road
Follansbee, WV 26037
Anyone with questions about donations is asked to call Grishkevich at 304-374-0634.

--Progressive Bank has set up an account to help the Mozingo family. Cash donations are being accepted and checks can be made out to:
Mozingo Family Fund
Progressive Bank
744 Charles Street
Wellsburg, WV 26070

--Krazy 'Bout Sportz in Weirton will donate half of the proceeds from its Haunted School of Terror collected on Saturday, Oct. 12, and Friday, Oct. 18, to the Mozingo family.
For more information contact:
Krazy 'Bout Sportz
Piece By Peace, Inc.
2850 Weir Avenue
Weirton, WV 26062
304-914-3248
pas_kbsportz@comcast.net
www.krazyboutsportz.com

Child killed in Brooke Co. house explosion


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