Cousin remembers man killed in Franklin explosion

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franklin explosion
Posted at 2:05 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 18:43:35-04

FRANKLIN, Va. - Howard Murphy says his cousin, Michael Wiggins, was a kind man.

"He was a nice guy, and I want everyone to know he had a name. His name was Michael Wiggins," Murphy told News 3 on Monday.

Wiggins died on Friday following injuries he sustained from an explosion at the Berkley Court apartments on April 15.

"I know he's out of his misery. I know he suffered a lot, but God makes no mistakes," Murphy said.

Wiggins was a father and grandfather, according to Murphy. Family members will hold a funeral for him on Saturday.

Murphy says Wiggins had complained to him of smelling gas before. "He mentioned he smelled gas," said Murphy.

Officials suspect a propane explosion led to the blast. Since then, propane lines have been turned off, leaving residents without hot water inside their units for more than two weeks.

"I hope the response is everyone steps up to the box and does the right thing. Accidents happen. It's a shame someone had to die behind it for it to open people's eyes," said Murphy.

News 3 reached out to the property management company, Severn Management Company, on Monday to ask if they were aware of any complaints made by Wiggins.

In a statement, the company said, "We have always responded promptly to any resident reports of potential gas issues and have involved qualified professionals to further evaluate any such reports."

On Friday, the company said it was a "moving target" on when hot water would be restored. In the meantime, they've set up temporary shower stations for residents and have arranged for them to also be able to use showers at a nearby truck stop.

A funeral for the 59-year-old will be held on Saturday.