State police have investigated the deaths of two men who were working on a steam boiler at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in West Haven and determined that super-heated water vapor rapidly filled a room and the two men working on the system were not able to get out of the room and suffered fatal injuries.
The explosion was reported around 8:14 a.m. on Nov. 13 in building 22 at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven.
State police said initial reports indicated multiple people injured and several fatalities and they searched for victims.
The victims killed in the explosion have been identified as 60-year-old Euel Sims, an employee of the VA Facility Maintenance Service and, Joseph O’Donnell, 36, a contractor working on the steam system. Three other people reported minor injuries.
Investigators from the Department of Veteran Affairs Police Service, state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, FBI, ATF, State Building Inspector, OSHA, West Haven Fire Department, West Haven Fire Marshal’s Office, West Haven Police Detective Bureau, Office of Inspector General, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner responded to the scene.
State police said the CSP-FEIU investigation determined that there was no fire or explosion but rather a “pressure event” within the steam system that was being worked on and it caused super-heated water vapor to rapidly fill the room and building.
The two people who were working on the system were not able to evacuate the room and
suffered fatal injuries and police found no apparent criminal aspect.
The U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration will continue to investigate, along with CSP-FEIU, the State Building Inspector’s Office, and West Haven Police Detectives.