DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A step forward this week in the investigation into the natural gas explosion that killed a 12-year-old Dallas girl last year.
Linda “Michellita” Rogers died when her family’s home on Espanola Drive exploded.
Homeowners in the area had been complaining of gas leaks for more than a month.
Now, the NTSB has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to provide soil samples from the area.
“The NTSB is obtaining these soil samples to aid our assessment of the potential impact the local soil conditions may have had with gas leaks that were observed in the area prior to the Feb. 23, 2018, explosion,” said Robert Hall, Director of the NTSB’s Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials, in a news release provided by the agency.
On Monday, Army Corps of Engineer crews were in the neighborhood, marking the streets and alley where the soil samples will be collected and checking for underground utilities.
Staffers will return on Tuesday to begin collecting the samples.
A spokesperson says the Corps will only collect the soil samples and will not be involved in testing he samples or analyzing the results, referring those inquiries to the NTSB.
Meanwhile, the NTSB has called the soil samples the last “major” piece of the investigation, signaling that the community may be close to getting long sought answers. Still, many remain on anxious.
“It’s kind of traumatizing,” admits Kaylee Gonazalez. “Like if I talk about it, I still remind myself like it was just yesterday.”
Gonzalez’ home was destroyed in an explosion and fire just days before Michellita was killed. Their homes shared a common alley.
“I was very angry because it had been days after ours,” says Gonzalez. “I think Atmos should have warned people, taken them out of the house and stuff.”
What was left of Gonzalez’ home is now being demolished. She admits it makes her sad, but she also knows her neighbors have lost so much more.
“Somebody had to lose their life for them to do something,” says Gonzalez.
Atmos has blamed the gas leaks on the unusually heavy rainfall at the time, shifting soil and aging steel pipes.
A spokesperson shared Monday they are cooperating in the investigation.
The NTSB is expected to release its findings by April 30.