Berks blast kills CHS grad

By on April 1, 2015

A boiler explosion that killed a 27-year-old Ephrata man Friday at a Berks County firm was accidental, but the exact cause is still under investigation, officials said Monday.

Jacob John Lopez, a father of two young sons and a 2006 Cocalico High School graduate, died early Saturday, hours after the incident at Timet, a titanium plant in Morgantown Business Park near the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

John Jacob Lopez

Jacob  John Lopez

The explosion erupted from a boiler using titanium for production, state police Trooper Thomas Finn wrote in a press release. He said a state police fire marshal investigation yielded nothing criminal about the incident.

The boiler that exploded is 20 to 25 feet in diameter with walls 5 or 6 feet tall, according to state police.
Several employees were in the area when the blast occurred.
Lopez reportedly was discovered by rescue crews, trapped beneath a piece of equipment.
Dr. Bruce Sensenig, superintendent of the Cocalico School District, confirmed Lopez’s graduation in 2006. He said Lopez attended the Willow Street Career and Technology Center during his senior year.
“They (Lopez’s high school principal and counselor) report he was a very popular and well liked student while attending Cocalico,” said Sensenig. “This is a sad and tragic event.”
Lopez was born in Lansdale and is the son of John and Terry (Morgan) Lopez of Denver. He was the fiance of Kelly J. Tshudy and was the father of two sons.
He had been employed by Timet for three years.
A visitation will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 3 Denver Road, Denver, followed by a funeral service at noon. Interment will be in Mellinger’s Union Cemetery.
According to the Reading Eagle, police responded to Timet for a report of an explosion at 10:59 p.m. Friday in the plant’s melt shop. There was no fire when police arrived at 11:05 p.m.
Two other plant employees were injured in the explosion and taken to Reading Hospital. Their names and conditions were not available.
Timet, a manufacturer of titanium-based metal products, has locations worldwide. The company has not yet released a damage estimate.
The incident is being investigated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA investigations typically can take several months.

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