Explosion survivor blames Atmos for husband's death

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on May 11, 2010 at 10:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 11 at 4:46 PM

IRVING — News 8 has previously reported on how the Texas Railroad Commission has found Atmos Energy responsible for a recent house explosion in Mesquite.

Now, residents of an Irving neighborhood say they believe that Atmos — and more bad natural gas pipeline couplings — are also to blame for a house explosion and death in January.

There is not much left of the house at 3521 Finley Road in Irving; a few brick columns, some charred wood and broken glass.

The remains are the result of a natural gas explosion last January.

But what is seen by the eye is not all that's left behind.

For homeowner Peggy Mantheiy, the worst of what's left is the pain.

And for a few more minutes early Tuesday afternoon, still left were the homemade signs that indicate something much more tragic happened here.

"I wear part of my husband's ashes every day," Mantheiy said, referring to the beautiful turquoise pendant hanging from her neck.

She speaks of her husband, Joseph who she credits with saving her life as a wall of flame exploded through their bedroom early on the morning of January 31.

He died from massive burns two weeks later.

But the pain of her loss is compounded by the fact the explosion was likely due to a leaking gas line across the street.

In the hours after the explosion, Atmos Energy crews found three immediate leaks.

In the days after the explosion, workers found several more up and down the street.

"After this occurred, they came down and told us there was a gas leak and they replaced the coupling," said neighbor Sandra Martin.

Neighbor after neighbor told us the same thing.

"I was walking my dogs in certain areas around the block I smelled gas," said Electra Finch.

"My parents have always smelled gas in their house — always," said another neighbor, Carrie Parks.

Atmos Energy has declined to discuss the January explosion, saying it is still under investigation.

It comes on the heels of two house explosions last November and a three-year News 8 investigation into explosions and deaths related to the same type of faulty natural gas coupling.

In every case, the damaged homes get scraped off the lot, but machines can't plow away the pain — nor can they eliminate a widow's pledge to unearth the truth about why another life was lost.

"They should have corrected it before it got to this point of losing a life," Mantheiy said.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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