Family of Teen Killed in Gas Explosions to Push for Increased Safety

The family of Leonel Rondon settled a lawsuit with Columbia Gas for an undisclosed amount.

The family of a high school student killed during a series of natural gas explosions in Massachusetts last year will push for measures to prevent such a disaster from occurring again, their lawyer said Wednesday.

The announcement came a day after Columbia Gas, the utility involved in the explosions, said it had settled a lawsuit filed by the family of Leonel Rondon.   

"The family intends to preserve the memory of Leonel in many ways, which will serve our community, our Commonwealth and indeed our country," said Doug Sheff, the family's lawyer.

Rondon, 18, of Lawrence, died Sept. 13 after the chimney of an exploding house crashed onto his car and crushed him. He had received his driver's license just hours earlier.

Sheff said his law firm has established a scholarship fund aimed at encouraging fire and explosion prevention and public safety.  

Sheff said the family was proud that new legislation introduced by Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Lori Trahan -- the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act -- had been named in the teen's honor.     

Rondon "loved music and science, but most of all he loved his family," Sheff said. 

"He will be sorely missed forever. Let us never allow such a catastrophe to happen again. Let us never forget the name Leonel Rondon."

The settlement came as the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover continue to recover from the disasterous explosions 10 months ago. 

The explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley also injured about 25 other people and damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes. Thousands of homes and businesses in the region were without natural gas service for weeks or months after the disaster.

At a press conference in North Andover, government and business leaders launched a marketing campaign to encourage people to shop at business impacted by the explosions. 
The “Rock the Register” campaign offers incentives to those who shop at Merrimack Valley businesses, including a $500 gift card.   
Thirty percent of businesses have yet to return to normal operations 10 months after the blasts, which rocked communities in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.At a press conference in North Andover, Tuesday, government and business leaders launched a marketing campaign to encourage people to shop at business impacted by the explosions. Thirty percent of businesses have yet to return to normal operations 10 months after the blasts, which rocked communities in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. Columbia Gas has announced plans to establish a scholarship fund in Rondon's name, independent of the settlement, which the two sides said was reached with the help of a mediator.The law firm that represented Rondon's family also planned to establish a scholarship fund in honor of the teen, according to Doug Sheff, the family's attorn
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