Stark County worker killed in gas explosion identified

Gas valve on Beth Avenue, SW. (Source: WOIO)
Gas valve on Beth Avenue, SW. (Source: WOIO)

STARK COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - An explosion during repairs at a gas transmission pipeline site killed a worker Monday.

It happened in the 8400 block of Beth Avenue SW. in Bethlehem Township near Navarre, Ohio.

60-year-old Wesley J. Johnson, of Wooster, and an employee of TransCanada was found dead at the scene. He had reportedly been working on equipment in the area when the accident occurred.

Deputies assisted several responding fire departments to evacuate people from the surrounding area until the gas could be turned off.

Given the volatility of gas, it is odd this doesn't happen more often, but remember gas has to be at just the right pressure, and have just the right ignition source to catch fire of explode.

Obviously those conditions were met today.

It is difficult to see exactly where the explosion happened, but an entry road was flanked by trucks from the Columbia Transmission company.

That company is now owned by Trans Canada, a company working on the controversial gas transmission line in this part of the state.

No word on exactly what happened, but a long section of pipeline and access road leads to the spot.

Jeff France doesn't live too far away and describes his experience and said, "I heard a large whistle noise, we don't live too far from Akron Canton Airport and it sounded like a low flying plane. It kept getting louder and louder and louder then there was a gigantic explosion. I made it down the road here to the sportsman's club and I saw the black smoke in the air and, you could smell gas."

A release late Monday afternoon calls the area the Columbia Gas Transmission system meter station.

It is unremarkable in such a remote area, until something goes wrong.

The cause of the gas leak remains under investigation.

Copyright 2017 WOIO. All rights reserved.