3 Killed, 11 Injured in Gatesville Hospital Explosion

A third man died from injuries sustained in an explosion at Coryell Memorial Hospital in Gatesville, Texas, which occurred on June 26, 2018. The latest victim, Wilber Dimas, suffered burns to more than 70 percent of his body and had undergone numerous surgeries since the blast.

Texas authorities have already completed preliminary investigations into the explosion and its cause, but Dimas’ family—in the hope of conducting further investigation that may shed light on the tragedy—successfully sought a restraining order to prevent the scene of the explosion from being cleaned up. Construction at the hospital, which was already under renovation when the explosion occurred, resumed in the weeks following the incident.

A natural gas line may have been a factor in the explosion, although the extent of its contribution is not fully known. Natural gas-related explosions are not uncommon in America and can often be deadly.

Massive Hospital Explosion Shook Nearby Buildings, Knocked Out Power 

Numerous construction workers were on site at Coryell Memorial Hospital helping with what the hospital described as a major renovation when the explosion occurred. Authorities believe that the explosion was centered in a boiler room, where crews were working at approximately 2:00 p.m. when witnesses say they heard an incredibly loud bang. Ominous black smoke began to billow from the site, and a portion of the building near the explosion collapsed.

Patients at the hospital were immediately evacuated and taken to nearby facilities, but because of the blast's location none suffered injuries. All injured individuals were working for contractors hired to assist with the hospital's renovations.

The force of the explosion was enough to knock out power to not only the hospital but two nearby nursing homes and hundreds of homes in Gatesville. The power outages at the nursing homes (the Oaks at Coryell and the Meadows) forced an evacuation of residents.

Who Was Killed in the Coryell Memorial Hospital Explosion? 

The death toll from the explosion at Coryell Memorial Hospital has continued to change in the weeks since the incident. Only one victim, Michael Bruggman, was pronounced dead on the day of the explosion. Since then two more men have died from injuries sustained in the blast, and it is possible that still more may lose their lives, with eight out of 11 injured individuals still hospitalized as of July 12, 2018.

Wilber Dimas 

The most recent victim to succumb to injuries from the Gatesville hospital explosion was 30-year-old Wilber Dimas. Dimas had suffered devastating injuries in the explosion, with burns to 70 percent of his body. Dimas' doctors later discovered burns inside his lungs, and he subsequently contracted pneumonia. He passed away July 15, 2018, after being in a medically-induced coma at Dell Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas following the explosion.  

Dimas' family was vocal about their fight to help Wilber survive, and about their quest for answers as to why the explosion happened. On GoFundMe Wilber's sister detailed that her brother had been working inside the hospital during the incident and that he had called their mother at approximately 3:00 p.m. to tell her he was not well and going to the hospital. They were the last words he spoke to her.

Michael Bruggman 

Forty-three-year-old Michael Bruggman was the first victim to die from the Gatesville hospital explosion. Bruggman, a construction supervisor with Lochridge-Priest, died the day of the incident.

A GoFundMe set up for Bruggman remembers him as an incredibly loving uncle, whose biggest concern if anything ever happened to him was that his nieces and nephews be well taken care of. The fundraising page also says that Bruggman was proud of his work as a construction supervisor and that he mentored others to help them become tradesmen.

Hundreds of people attended a July 2, 2018, memorial for Bruggman, where he was repeatedly described as having a big smile and a bigger heart.

Filiberto Morales 

Thirty-six-year-old Filiberto Morales worked with Network Controls, an electrical subcontractor brought in for the Coryell Memorial Hospital renovation project. He died two days after the explosion on Thursday, June 28, 2018, at 3:45 p.m. at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, Texas.

Father and Son Among Those Injured in Texas Hospital Explosion 

Eight injured victims remained hospitalized throughout Texas at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Parkland Memorial Hospital, and Dell Seton Medical Center, including Vernon and Justin Barabas, a father and son who were both working on the renovation and are now in critical condition with severe burns that are primarily second and third degree.

Victim's Family Files for Restraining Order to Preserve Explosion Evidence

On July 10, 2018, Coryell Memorial Hospital Marketing Director Carly Latham said that renovation construction had resumed at the hospital, but a restraining order obtained by the family of Wilber Dimas halted any cleanup at the site of the explosion. 

An attorney for the family said they hope to use the preserved incident site to recreate the explosion, similar to how investigators recreate a fire. Latham said that they had already been waiting to clean up the blast area because of the insurance company's desire to inspect it.

Natural Gas Line Was Part of Explosion

Though details are few, the State Fire Marshal's Office has completed their forensic examination and, based on the initial investigation, are calling the incident a "construction-related accident resulting in a natural gas explosion." Further investigation is necessary to reach a full conclusion.