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Family reaches settlement with Columbia Gas over explosion in Lawrence home

All that remained of the Figueroa family home in Lawrence after the explosion.
All that remained of the Figueroa family home in Lawrence after the explosion. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File/2018/Globe Staff

A Lawrence family that came to symbolize the human toll of the Merrimack Valley gas explosions and fires has settled a lawsuit with Columbia Gas for an undisclosed amount, attorneys for the family and company announced Tuesday.

One provision of the settlement requires the company to provide a motorized wheelchair and make other accommodations for a family member severely injured in the blasts.

A gas line error by Columbia Gas triggered a massive outbreak of explosions and fires on Sept. 13 in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

Omayra Figueroa’s home on Chickering Road was among the structures that exploded, injuring a daughter inside the house and her son, Christian, sitting in the passenger seat in a car in the driveway.

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The driver of the car, 18-year-old Leonel Rondon, was killed when the brick chimney fell onto the car, officials have said.

The settlement involves the Figueroa family and Columbia Gas, attorneys for both the gas company and the Figueroas said in a statement Tuesday.

“Things will never be the same for the Figueroa family, but today is an important step forward on a long road towards healing. The Figueroas continue to rely on their faith in God for strength and would like to thank everyone who has supported them throughout this very difficult time,” Socrates De La Cruz, a Figueroa family attorney, said in the statement.

The Globe reported last September that Omayra Figueroa’s daughter, Shakira, had to be rescued by first responders and suffered “catastrophic crushing injuries to her pelvis and legs, resulting in her bones being shattered into multiple pieces, and she will require years of physical therapy to restore function, if it can be restored at all.’’

Christian Figueroa suffered fractures to his pelvis, among other injuries.

Omayra Figueroa was thrown across the interior of the house by the force of the blasts, her attorneys said in court papers last year. “Ms. Figueroa tried to leave the home, but the hallway was no longer located where it had been before the explosions. Ms. Figueroa heard her daughter, Shakira, crying out for help,’’ the attorneys wrote.

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The family’s house was destroyed.

The amount of the settlement was not disclosed. Columbia Gas said it would provide a motorized wheelchair and a mobility van, and make modifications to the family’s home.


John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.