Lawsuit filed in fatal Aurora Heather Gardens gas explosion


DENVER | Relatives of a senior home resident killed in an explosion two years ago after workers boring underground hit a natural gas line have sued several companies, claiming their workers acted “negligently and recklessly” in their drilling practices.

The lawsuit over the death of Carol Ross, 82, was filed in September and alleged that Comcast Corp., Xcel Energy Inc. and subcontractors showed a pattern of negligence by striking gas lines while digging at the Heather Gardens senior community in Aurora in the weeks leading up to the explosion, The Denver Post reported Thursday.

The Nov. 16, 2018, blast shot debris hundreds of feet, opened a chasm in the ground and also injured three other people, including a firefighter.

An investigation by Aurora Fire Rescue found that contractors hit the gas line the day of the explosion, according to Sentinel and other reports.

Investigators ruled in 2019 that the blast was “an unintentional human act or omission.” No charges were filed against Comcast or Xcel Energy.

Ross’ children and five other residents of the retirement community who were injured or financially impacted by the incident were named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the newspaper reported. They are seeking unspecific monetary damages.

“From the outset, Comcast and its excavation contractors negligently and recklessly performed the excavation and drilling work without regard to safety, resulting in numerous utility line strikes,” the lawsuit said.

Comcast said in a statement that it offers its “deepest sympathy” to the Ross family. The company added that it had been “working with the Heather Gardens community to provide support, and we will continue to do so.”

Xcel Energy said in a statement it could not comment on the lawsuit but that “a natural gas line was hit by a third party digging in the area without the locates (sic) required by state law.”

The statement added: “The Colorado Public Utilities Commission investigated the incident and our overall response. They did not find any Xcel Energy violations.”