Family of man who died after Merrimack Valley gas explosions to file lawsuit

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The family of a North Andover man who died after a series of gas explosions and fires rocked the Merrimack Valley in September plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Columbia Gas.

Attorney Marc Breakstone, who is representing the estate of Kenneth Deveau, says the 57-year-old man had numerous health problems and suffered a heart attack a day after being taken to a local evacuation center.

Deveau died later that month.

Breakstone told 7News that the family blames DeVeau’s death on the stress, anxiety, and trauma surrounding the evacuation.

“I’m quite confident that his medical doctors will testify that the stress, anxiety, and trauma of the evacuation and the time he spent at the evacuation center was more than his heart and his body could handle,” he said.

Attorneys representing the family of an 18-year-old Leonel Rondon, of Lawrence have also announced plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Columbia Gas.

Rondon was killed when after a house explosion sent a chimney crashing down on top of him.

More than 130 structures and five homes in neighborhoods in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover were damaged or destroyed by fires and explosions on Sept. 13.

The pressure in the natural gas pipelines was said 12 times higher than it should have been at the time of the blasts.

Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into the incident.