Man injured in propane explosion at Franklin duplex has died, officials confirm

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Posted at 6:09 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-30 16:37:06-04

FRANKLIN, Va. - One of the victims who was seriously injured in the propane explosion at the Berkley Court Apartments on April 15 has died.

Franklin City Manager Amanda Jarratt and Franklin Police both confirmed to News 3 Friday that the victim, identified as Michael Wiggins, has died after he was transported from the duplex after the explosion.

Police say they are not able to provide a cause of death until the Office of the Medical Examiner has completed its investigation.

The explosion happened just before 11 p.m. on April 15. Wiggins was one of two people who were critically injured in the incident.

One woman who lives nearby tells News 3 reporter Leondra Head she knew Wiggins well.

"Michael was a nice guy, and he was sick. He said he kept telling the people he smelled propane, and he said they never did nothing about it. And I feel like whoever he called and told, I think they should be responsible and I think they should pay all these people for what they are going through because they caused this problem. Then the older people can’t even take a shower. They put a shower up here, and it closes at 6 o'clock [in the morning]. What is that?" Jacqueline Thorpe, a Franklin resident tells News 3.

As of Friday, two weeks after the explosion, residents in 75 homes in the Berkley Court community are still without gas and hot water.Neighbors tell us they've been boiling water and showering in their kitchen sinks.

The property management company, Severn Companies, has selected a third-party company to inspect the gas lines. The gas line inspection still hasn't happened.

Severn released the following statement Friday night in regards to news of Wiggins' passing:

We are deeply saddened by the news that one of our residents has passed away as a result of the incident that took place on Friday, April 15. Our thoughts, prayers and support go out to their family and friends during this difficult time.
Severn Companies

The Virginia Legal Aid Society also expressed interest in getting involved and possibly providing relief. Anyone who needs assistance can reach the Suffolk office by phone at 757-539-3441 ext. 801.

The Franklin City NAACP also told us a couple weeks ago it has started a fundraiser with a goal of $50,000, which will provide support for the victims' immediate and long-term needs.

"As a community, we have the ability to make a difference in the lives of those in need. While no amount of money can erase this tragic event, The Franklin NAACP hopes to lessen the burden of the victims in some way," the group said.

If you'd like to donate, you can do so by CashApp at $FRANKLINCITYNAACP or mailing donations to:

Franklin N.A.A.C.P #7068
P.O. Box 812
Franklin, VA 23852

Stay with News 3 for updates.