Four people are facing manslaughter charges in connection with the East Village explosion last March, according to a press release from the New York County District Attorney's Office. The explosion led to the death of two people, left several people injured, and caused three buildings on Second Avenue and East 7th Street to collapse,
Among those charged are the owners of the building where the explosion occurred, Maria Hrynenko, and her son, Michael Hrynenko. The New York Daily News was the first to report on the indictment. The two others charged with manslaughter are a general contractor, Dilber Kukic, and plumber, Athanasios Ioannidis, who are being accused of illegally installing a gas delivery system into the building on the order of the owners, which ultimately led to the explosion.
A fifth person, Andrew Trombettas, has been charged with providing false paperwork to the plumber, who did not have the requisite license to carry out the work that he did in the buildings.
"The seven-alarm fire that killed two people and engulfed three buildings in March 2015 was caused by a foreseeable, preventable, and completely avoidable gas explosion," Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, said in the release. "As alleged in the indictment, the defendants created a deadly inferno fueled by an illegal gas delivery system installed at 121 Second Avenue, leading to the loss of two young lives, and leaving more than a dozen others with serious, permanent injuries."
The indictment alleges that on the instruction of Maria Hrynenko, both Kukic and Ioannidis tried several ways to illegally provide gas to the residents at 121 Second Avenue. They also allegedly tried repeatedly to hide that work from Con Ed employees, despite having already had the gas cut off to 121 Second Avenue almost a year earlier for unsafe installation. In fact, the indictment alleges, on the day of the explosion, both Kukic and Ioannidis tried to manipulate the gas delivery system to avoid suspicion by the Con Ed inspectors who were arriving that day. That constant tweaking with the gas equipment on part of the plumber, the contractor, and one of the owners ultimately led to the explosion, the indictment alleges.
Around 3 p.m. that day, March 26, 2015, an employee at Sushi Park, the restaurant located on the ground floor at 121 Second Avenue, called Maria Hrynenko and informed her of a strong gas odor. Surveillance footage showed Kukic and Maria's son, Michael, entering the building, and then swiftly running out without informing anyone in the building, according to the indictment. The explosion killed one of the diners at the restaurant, Nicholas Figueroa, and an employee of Sushi Park, Moises Locon. Thirteen other people were seriously injured. The buildings at 119, 121, and 123 Second Avenue all collapsed in the aftermath, and 125 Second Avenue sustained serious damages as well.
"The individuals involved in the East Village gas explosion showed a blatant and callous disregard for human life," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press release. "We are heartened that today these defendants will be brought to justice and forced to answer for their criminal actions. New York City lost two of our own in this tragic explosion – and New York City's Bravest put their lives on the line to battle this seven-alarm fire. These indictments will hopefully bring Mr. Figueroa and Mr. Locón's families some closure following this tragic event."
Each of the four individuals charged with manslaughter are facing several other charges related to the explosion as well. A full rundown of the events that ultimately led to the explosion can be found at the Manhattan D.A.'s website.
· General contractor, home owners, plumber face manslaughter charges in connection to 2015's deadly East Village explosion [NY Daily News]
· Explosion Leads to Building Collapse on Second Avenue [Curbed]