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Investigation into fatal explosion continues in Elk Co.

Reported By: Deven Clarke
Written By: Marc Stempka

ST. MARYS, Pa. -- One employee is dead and two others were injured after an explosion at an Elk County manufacturing facility, and now federal investigators are assisting in looking for the cause.

Officials said an explosion was reported at the Mersen USA facility on Trout Run Road in St. Marys about 9 a.m. Thursday. It was not yet clear what caused the blast.

The names of those involved in the incident have not yet been released by officials, but Christy Gibbons, of Pittsburgh, said her father, Neil Carter, was one of the two injured at the plant.

"He broke a couple of facial bones [and] had a 6-inch gash on his head that they had to staple," Gibbons said. "One of his sinus cavities [also] collapsed."

Gibbons said Carter was thrown through the air and landed on the front of his face. He was taken to UPMC Altoona for treatment of his injuries. Officials said the other injured employee was taken to Elk Regional Medical Center and was released.

Mersen USA St. Marys plant General Manager Noah Nichelson said the incident was "an equipment related accident." It was not clear what kind of work the employees were doing at that time.

Nichelson said the company "will continue to cooperate with the appropriate officials with our immediate focus on the three employees and their families who have been impacted by this accident as well as supporting the rest of our workforce."

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed investigators will be working with the company to figure out the cause of the accident.

Emily Anders works in St. Marys and said the community feels bad about what happened at Mersen.

"It's really a sad situation. There's a lot of plants in this area and that's kind of a risk that people take working there," Anders said. "But it's really the only type of jobs that are available."

The county coroner and St. Marys police are also assisting in the investigation.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times