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State Fire Marshal: Gas leak caused explosion at Medina apartment that killed mother, son

Posted at 9:24 AM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 07:11:09-05

An explosion and fire at an apartment in Medina that killed a mother and her son earlier this month was caused by a natural gas leak within the building, according to a preliminary ruling from the State Fire Marshal. 

While an official ruling on the final cause could still be days or weeks away, Dan Gladish, the chief building official for Medina said a 1/2 inch gas valve was open and it wasn't capped.

Gladish said the valve was not in use, and at one time, was connected to a gas dryer.

The building official believes natural gas poured into an apartment for at least two hours before the explosion.

"A 50 cent cap or a 50 cent plug could have most likely prevented this from happening," Gladish said.

The explosion happened at the Medina Village Apartments on Springbrook Drive on Feb. 9.

Jacob Harley Drake, 18, died as a result of the fire. Authorities said he had special needs and was confined to a wheelchair.

His mother, Sheila Drake, was pronounced dead on Feb. 20. As of Tuesday morning, her husband, Robert Drake, was in fair condition at MetroHealth Medical Center.

The blast also left numerous families homeless.

Several days after the explosion, gas company inspectors found more than 80 gas leaks throughout the complex, including 10 that were similar to the interior leak where the explosion happened, Gladish told News 5.

"There were 10 uncapped valves, so if we find that an uncapped valve and wide open valve led to this disaster, it could have happened 10 more times."

Management at the apartment complex referred questions to an attorney, Thomas Cabral.

Cabral said an investigation is on-going and that he would comment "down the road."