SOUTH NYACK, N.Y. (AP) – Authorities filed criminal charges against a worker whose actions led to a gas explosion that injured seven people at a suburban New York college, the police chief said Wednesday.
Douglas Walker, 44, of South Nyack, surrendered to the South Nyack-Grand View Police Department on Tuesday night, said Chief Brent Newbury.
Police would not specifically say what Walker’s involvement was in the blast at Nyack College, citing an ongoing investigation. The charges were first reported Wednesday in the Journal-News.
“His actions caused the gas leak,” Newbury said. “The gas line was unintentionally damaged, but it is something that should have and could have been avoided.”
Mike Donohue, a spokesman for Orange & Rockland Utilities, said an investigation by his company found that a service pipe leading to the college gymnasium appeared to have been damaged by some kind of heavy mechanical equipment. It appeared excavation work had been done in the area, and Donohue said workers found a bent pipe had been separated from the gas main.
Walker was released without bail and was not accompanied by an attorney, according to Newbury. He is due in South Nyack Village Court on Monday night to be arraigned on reckless endangerment and assault charges. There was no telephone listing for him at the address provided by police.
Walker is identified on the Nyack College website as its director of facilities, but police said they believed he was a contract worker.
An attorney for the college was out of the country on Wednesday and not available to immediately comment, his assistant said. Calls to the college were referred to the attorney’s office.
A female student and six employees suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the June 4 explosion.
The building where the blast occurred, known as the Sky Island Lodge, is both an administrative and classroom building for the Christian college, which is about 25 miles north of New York City.