Gas utility inspectors for Consolidated Edison met on March 26 2015 with a contractor and subcontractor to discuss renovation work at about 2 pm that day. They all left the building at 121 Second Ave near E Seventh St, NYC New York by 2:45 pm after inspecting the gas lines and looking for safety issues. The building exploded at 3:17 pm and brought down three buildings and damaged four others. It also injured about 22 people, some critically and left two young men missing.
It took hours to battle the resulting fires in which the affected buildings collapsed and more than a day to locate the bodies of Nicholas Figueroa, 23, and Moises Locon, 27. Nicholas has been on a lunch date at a local sushi restaurant when the explosion happened and his date escaped with injuries but he had not. Locon was working as a busboy at Sushi Park and had been planning to return to his waiting girlfriend in Guatemala soon. Their bodies were found in the rubble on March 29th between 1 and 4 pm. Investigators are still working to discover what had caused the explosion and suspect that one of the gas lines in the building had been tampered with or illegally tapped.
|Figueroa & Locon|
What is disgusting is the need for people to post selfies of everything these days. Within hours of the explosion there were numerous people posting selfies of themselves at the location and they are not just from tourists unfamiliar with American life. The events photography company EventsPhotosNYC posted a picture showing seven women smiling in front of the emergency vehicles at the site on Friday night. Univision, a spanish language outlet had already beaten them to the punch and posted a picture of a reporter at the site the day before taking his own selfie. Christina Freundlich, a former employee of the Iowa Democratic Party posted a pic of herself with a peace sign in front of the site on Saturday night.
These pictures were not pictures that were reporting on the event..... they were smiling selfies at the site of an accident that still had two people missing in the rubble. While they were standing around, posing with grins on their faces, two young men's bodies still lay buried in the rubble. I am not sure when the public idea of reporting, documenting and making a record of significant events changed to an attitude of "look at me, I'm here" with little regard for the tragedy involved. Those who are directly involved in this latest selfie binge should be embarassed of the actions and apologize to those who were suffering while they waited to know the fate of those missing. I am sure that if it were their house that had burnt down and they had family missing there, they would not want to see pictures posted of smiling people with peace signs standing in their front yard. Where is the respect these days?
Update March 31 2015:
Investigators showed up at the home of Maria Hrynenko's home in the Palisades and collected bags of shredded documents that may relate to the ongoing investigation of the gas explosion. Hrynenko owns the building that was destroyed in the blast last week and investigators are reportedly very interested in an incident that occurred in the building last summer.
On Aug 6 2014, a Con Ed meter reader smelled gas at the location and discovered a strange attachment with hoses on the gas line. The gas line was installed only to provide gas to the restaurant on the first floor but it looked as though the attachment was providing gas to the upper floors of the building. Con Ed ordered the attachment removed and nine days later, a licensed plumber removed it and gas was restored after the repair had been certified. it is now suspected that there was another similar attachment installed on the line for the same reason as before....... to provide gas to the upper floor tenants.
It has been reported that the owner of the sushi restaurant had smelled gas minutes before the explosion and had contacted Hrynenko about it. When her son and a contractor opened the door to the basement, the building exploded.
Update April 6 2015:
Contractor Dilber Kukic has confessed that he had rigged a gas line in the building at 121 Second Ave for the apartments above. The illegal hook-up was removed before the Con Ed inspection and then was replaced afterwards. The explosion that destroyed the building happened about 30 minutes after the hook-up had been reinstalled.
The building is owned by Maria Hrynenko who inherited it from her late husband Michael Sr who owned it and several others. He had run the 24 hour Kiev Diner in the East Village before his death in 2004. It was their son, Michael Jr, 29, who was at the building when a gas smell was reported and he and Kukic had started to go into the basement at the time of the blast. Kukic had carried Michael Jr to safety since he had been injured in the blast. Kukic did state that it was Micheal Jr who had insisted that he instal and reinstall the illegal hook-up on the gas line and he was only doing what he was told.
Kukic had been arrested in October 2014 in a city wide sweep involving a $600 bribe to a city inspector. He was evidently trying to make two violations on buildings he owns on W 173rd St go away. The lawyer for Maria Hrynenko, Thomas Curtis, has stated that he has been replaced by another lawyer from Dutchess County because things were not working out between them. Maria had told him not to mention who that new lawyer is and Curtis has added that he feels she has made a mistake.