Police ID 48-year-old Jackson County man killed in Dexter explosion
John Counts | AnnArbor.com
The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday released the name of the 48-year-old Brooklyn, Mich. man who died Monday afternoon from injuries suffered in an explosion at the Dexter Utilities Department.
Michael Koch died at University of Michigan Hospital Monday afternoon. He was working on a concrete lid of a tank at the wastewater treatment plant when a welder’s torch ignited methane gas and exploded.
Koch worked for Platinum Mechanical, Inc., a plumbing contractor out of Flint. A representative from the company declined comment when reached Tuesday morning.
“The demolition contractors were on site when the explosion occurred and it did kill one of our Local 190 employees,” the representative said, before declining further comment out of respect for Koch’s family.
Koch was working on the tank with David McBride, a 23-year-old Howell man. McBride was in stable condition after the blast Monday afternoon. The Dexter Area Fire Department was dispatched to the plant, 8360 Huron St., at 1:39 p.m. Monday after the explosion was reported.
McBride works for Regal Recycling. His condition was not clear Tuesday afternoon.
The explosion is not being investigated as a criminal incident, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said Tuesday. However, Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) officials are investigating.
Andrea Miller, communications representative for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), said the Construction Safety and Health Division initiated an investigation Monday into the explosion. She said the investigation into the explosion could take several weeks.
Miller said investigators will talk to police and fire representatives, along with witnesses about the incident before making the report.
“The compliance officer will assess the physical information from the accident site, gather information related to the accident, take photos and measurements, conduct interviews and compile this information into a report,” she said in a statement.
MIOSHA is a division of LARA. The Construction Safety and Health Division is one of two enforcement divisions within MIOSHA.
Koch and McBride were working as a part of a $3.3 million sludge handling improvement project that started in October, according to village officials. The concrete holding tank the men were working on collects sewer waste. The main contractor for the project is A.Z. Shmina, Inc.
Both men were in the tank at the time of the explosion. The force of the blast blew Koch out of the tank and other workers assisted McBride out. When firefighters arrived on scene, both men were on the roof of a nearby building.
Village of Dexter Manager Donna Dettling said the plant continues to operate and the village is waiting for the police and state investigations to wrap up to determine if it needs to do its own.
“I’m not sure what our attorneys are going to advise us on what we’re going to do, if we’ll do an investigation independent of the others,” she said, adding it was too early in the process to tell.
View Dexter explosion in a larger map