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GRDA: 2 Men Dead In Kerr Dam Explosion


Updated May 14, 1:23 p.m.

The Grand River Dam Authority said Friday two workers were found dead after being trapped inside the Robert S. Kerr Dam near Locust Grove in a Thursday evening explosion.

Rescue crews recovered the men's bodies around 4:30 a.m. Friday. The men were subcontractors from Colorado-based DA Smith Drilling, hired to evaluate scouring — erosion around the dam’s main structures caused by recent flooding — by taking samples from the bedrock below the Lake Hudson dam.

GRDA Executive Vice President John Wiscaver said while the workers were in the lowest tunnel inside the dam about 80 feet down, they encountered naturally occurring gases and were trying to cap the source. 

"That’s part of their specialization, is to address these types of situations, and when a determination was made during their work that these gases existed, they were doing something to address those gases. And this unfortunately occurred at 6 p.m. when the explosion occurred while they were doing that work," Wiscaver said.

GRDA is looking into what happened.

"We’ve got a lot of heavy hearts at GRDA this morning because we’re just sickened by the loss of these two individuals, and part of that responsibility is to determine what created the situation, why the event occurred," Wiscaver said.

A third man higher up in the dam was injured and treated at a hospital. GRDA said it is waiting for DA Smith Drilling to release their names.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration will investigate any worker safety problems.

Wiscaver said the explosion did not compromise the dam, which generates hydroelectricity.

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