South Los Angeles fireworks explosion kills 2, families say
Locals are now mourning their two neighbors, who each had pre-existing health issues but died last month as a result of the blast. Families say the powerful explosion, which followed the detonation and rocked the neighborhood, contributed to the deaths of their loved ones.
The families of the two men who died in the weeks following the explosion told Eyewitness News that they were considering legal action.
“Families believe it was the stress caused by the blast that ultimately led to the deaths of family members,” said Union del Barrio’s Ron Gurez. “So although they did not die on the day of the explosion, they believe it was the explosion that caused their deaths.”
A deceased man has been identified as Auzie Houchins, 72. He lived in a house badly damaged by the explosion. Lorna Hairston, Houchins’ wife, says he was an LAUSD teacher and lived in southern LA his entire life. She was at their house when the explosion occurred.
“He doesn’t take any kind of change and is usurped out of the house like that for three weeks, just sitting there in the room doing nothing – bad enough,” she said.
“He was born in this house, so you uprooted him and you had to take everything … How do you take where you were born and then move?” said Marie Staples, Hairston’s daughter.
Neighbors say the other deceased elderly man is Ramon Reyes, whose roof collapsed on top of him in the blast.
Fireworks explosion in southern LA: Explosives exceeded containment truck’s capacity, LAPD says
“They were both using oxygen and at the time they were moved from their homes, when they were moved, their oxygen machines or tanks were not taken with them,” said Getty. “And the hospital bed, a specialized hospital bed, was not taken with them either, so the families believe it has something to do with their deaths as well.”
Getty says Houchins had diabetes and was struggling after the explosion because the city moved his family to a hotel with no kitchen. According to the LA County Coroner, one of the causes of Houchins’ death was sudden heart dysfunction or a heart attack.
More than two dozen families affected by the blast are still not allowed to return home, including Madeline Heredia, 15. She says the city has not informed them of where they will go next.
“All we want is for them to fix our house. We want to come home,” Heredia said. “We want to have our own privacy. We want to have our own place to be ourselves.”
South LA explosion: community calls LAPD to account after fireworks explosion
Eyewitness News has contacted the LAPD regarding the two deaths, but has not received a response. City Council Member Curren Price issued the following statement:
“In the past 30 days since the unlawful LAPD fireworks explosion on 27th Street, my office has worked closely with the victims of this tragic incident, responding to their various needs including housing. medical, emergency and longer term and funding. assistance, as well as other necessities.
What these victims had to endure is reprehensible and unacceptable, and I repeat, it should never have happened in the first place. In the meantime, my office has mobilized a multi-pronged effort that includes awarding grants of $ 10,000 to 25 pre-identified severely affected households, as well as repairs to more than 30 homes along 27th Street, the most to be completed by the end of this month. In addition, my Office has helped place 25 families, consisting of over 80 people, in company accommodation where they will be allowed to stay while their homes are being repaired. Acceptance of this assistance by my office will not affect a family’s ability to file a claim or take legal action. I will continue to advocate on behalf of our community so that their claims to the City are expedited and they can begin to pick up the pieces as they continue on their path to recovery.
When our office learned of the recent loss of two Patriarchs who lived on 27th Street, it struck my staff and I even more as the Price team got to know them intimately. Our sincere condolences to them and we will continue to be there in their time of great need. “
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