UPDATE: Coroner releases information on LaPorte Co. explosion - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Coroner releases information on LaPorte Co. explosion

Posted: Updated:
Photo Courtesy "Gary" Photo Courtesy "Gary"

A deadly explosion in a La Porte County grain elevator took the life of a Union Mills man.

It happened around 2:30pm Eastern Time Monday at the Union Mills Co-Alliance in the 3500 block of West 800 South.

The Sheriff's Office says the victim as 67-year-old James Swank.  He was an employee of the La Porte County Co-Alliance working at the Union Mills facility.  Swank was on the silo when the explosion happened.  The LaPorte County Coroner says Swank died from the blast, not the fall that followed.

The Sheriff's Office says the area around the grain elevator has been deemed safe.  The Fire Marshall and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are on the scene trying to get to the bottom of what caused the explosion.

"The next thing I know it's, "boom boom!" you know. Rattled the house and I said, "holy, you know what," says Dwaine Coyer, who heard the explosion.

Coyer was visiting his brother and doing some work around the house when he heard the explosion.

"I knew it was pretty bad," says Coyer.

The explosion also shook Shelley Campbell's family.

"I was just laying down and all of a sudden we heard a really loud boom and the girls were in the living room playing a game or something and they just screamed!" says Campbell.

Campbell can see the Union Mills Co-Alliance grain elevator from her front yard at the Union Baptist Church, but was hoping the loud boom she heard was nothing serious.

"It's really close to the 4th of July so maybe someone let off dynamite, a stick of dynamite or something," says Campbell.

A preliminary investigation shows no chemicals or fertilizers were involved in the explosion and there has been no hazardous release.

It's uncommon ground for the Sheriff's Department.

"This is the first time I can recall one in La Porte County," says La Porte County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chief Jim Sosinski.

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