CHICAGO – The family of three who were killed in an explosion at Starved Rock State Park in May say they died because negligent demolition companies lost track of explosives.
The family of Inmer Rivera Tejada brothers, 39, Rafael Rivera Tejada, 36, and their nephew Guillermo Rivera Tejada, 26, said words couldn’t describe the pain of losing them all at once. However, the family added that her death was avoidable, which is why they decided to file a lawsuit against the companies they believe are responsible.
The Tejada brothers and their nephew all lived in one block in Chicago’s Little Village with their families and seven children.
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“These men were our brothers, fathers, and husbands. These men were three pillars of their family, ”said Inmer Rivera Tejada’s wife Maluc Cordoba-Arce.
Cordoba-Arce said the trio loved fishing in Starved Rock State Park. Inmer Video called his son back in May about one of these trips.
“It was just my husband who said they went fishing and caught a fish and wanted to cook it, and he told my son he would take it another day so he was very excited,” said Cordoba-Arce .
But minutes after that call, the family’s lawyers said a catastrophic explosion on the premises killed all three men. The lawyers say the explosion was caused by a copper pipe they believed to be their pan over the fire.
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“We knew that this was not a copper pipe. As it turned out, this copper pipe was an undetonated linear charge, ”said lawyer Patrick Salvi.
That explosives were left after the nearby Route 178 bridge was demolished less than two months earlier, lawyers said.
The families are now suing the three companies involved in the demolition – D Construction, Gillan Construction and Orica USA – claiming their negligence resulted in tragedy.
“It wasn’t just this one device that remained,” said Salvi. “The investigation revealed just 11 days after the initial demolition that another charged linear shape was found and unsurprisingly, contrary to Illinois law, it was not reported.”
The lawyers say a careful investigation after the demolition and again after another device was found would have prevented the deaths of the three fathers.
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“I am here today to pursue the justice and accountability our families deserve, and most importantly, to prevent every other family from going through what my family goes through every day,” Cordoba-Arce.
Lawyers say the residues found on the victims matched the explosives used in the demolition of the bridge. WGN News has reached out to the companies named in the lawsuit. No one commented on this report.
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