An accident involving a compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle claimed one life Thursday afternoon in the village of Howard near Green Bay, Wis.
The Brown County Sheriff’s Office said an explosion was reported around 1:30 p.m., and a deputy responded to the call, on Pamperin Rd. According to the sheriff’s office, a box-style truck carrying a forklift turned into a driveway, whereupon the forklift slid and ruptured the truck’s CNG tank, ‘causing the truck to explode.’
The sheriff’s office said the vehicle’s driver was pronounced dead at the scene and that a passenger was ‘thrown from the vehicle and transported to an area hospital with critical injuries.’ The Associated Press reported on Friday afternoon that the driver was 59-year-old Gerald Throw, of Sobieski, Wis. The injuries of the passenger, 29-year-old Jose Perez of Green Bay, were non-life threatening as of Friday, according to the AP.
Ed Janke, Howard’s director of public safety, told NGT News that the explosion did not involve a fire. The blast heard in the neighborhood was the instantaneous, violent release of high-pressure gas from the vehicle’s CNG tank. Janke could not yet confirm the make, model or year of the truck itself, and the specifics about the CNG storage system were unknown.
‘We’re just trying to get some answers,’ he said. ‘It appears it’s a singular event.’
Janke did note that, upon initial inspection, there was no evident degradation of the CNG tank or system components.
The truck was leased to Green Bay-based Ace Manufacturing Industries Inc., from McCoy NationaLease, which specializes in medium- and heavy-duty trucks. A representative of Ace Manufacturing told NGT News that no comment could be made, ‘pending an investigation.’ The sheriff’s office did note that an accident-reconstruction team would be working on the case.
The story continues to develop. Local-media coverage is available from the Green Bay Press-Gazette, here, and from WTAQ, here.
NGT News will continue to report on exactly what happened to the vehicle and its CNG fuel system as details emerge.
4/4/14, 6:45 p.m. EDT: On Friday night, local Green Bay ABC affiliate WBAY ran a piece titled ‘Industry Backs Safety of CNG Despite Howard Explosion’ that said ‘explosions like the one in Howard appear rare.’ See their coverage here.
4/7/14, 2:33 p.m. EDT: NGT News was able to connect with McCoy Group Inc., parent company of McCoy NationaLease, which leased the truck to Ace Manufacturing Industries Inc. However, the company had no comment and could not share any information – including details about the truck or the CNG system.