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Ashtabula County man died while making explosive devices in garage, sheriff says

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 10:37 AM EDT
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JEFFERSON, Ohio (WOIO) - A 55-year-old Jefferson Township man died Saturday after improvised explosive devices he was making in his garage blew up.

(Note: The above video is from Sunday, May 23).

A neighbor told the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department the man, identified as Michael Hopkins, was making the explosives in his garage to sell so he could pay off a lawn mower he recently bought.

Deputies from the sheriff’s office and firefighters from the Jefferson Fire Department went to Hopkins’ home on the 1300 block of Clay Street around 8 p.m. Saturday.

When deputies arrived on scene, the detached garage located behind Hopkin’s house was burned to the ground. Debris were scattered across the property and into the neighbor’s yard.

“Everybody heard explosions all around the neighborhood,” said the son of Michael Hopkins’ girlfriend, who didn’t want to be identified. “My mom’s pretty much in shock.”

“I was just in my room, and I just all of a sudden I hear an explosion and I thought it was my game for a moment then I just heard my mother screaming,” said another son, who was home at the time of the explosion.

The family sprang into action with no regard for their own safety.

“We were basically dragging him out of there and I was just a little bit away and I saw the debris but I tried to get out of the way but I didn’t,” said the young man who was burned by some flying debris in the rescue effort.

“They tried to save him and then... he went deaf,” added his brother.

“There was one confirmed fatality at this time. No other injuries were reported,” said Jake Rice, EMS Chief in the Jefferson Rescue District. “Currently, the explosion on Clay Street is under investigation from the Jefferson Fire Department, the state fire marshal, and the ATF.”

“Most people wouldn’t have reacted the way he reacted to actually run in,” said the older brother “Most people ran the opposite way.”

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed Saturday that the agency responded to assist the Astabula County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake County Bomb Squad.

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