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Investigation finds 'pressure event', super-heated water vapor caused deaths at West Haven VA

The victims were not able to evacuate the room and suffered fatal injuries.
Credit: FOX61

WEST HAVEN, Conn. — State Police provided an update Thursday into last week's fatal explosion at the West Haven VA medical center.

Connecticut State Police's Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit responded to the scene and confirmed two fatalities, later identified as 60-year-old Euel Sims and 36-year-old Joseph O’Donnell.

RELATED: U.S. Navy veteran among 2 killed in West Haven VA medical center explosion, 3 others injured

Officials said the CSP-FEIU investigation also determined that there was no fire or explosion, but rather a “pressure event” within the steam system that was being worked on.

This event caused super-heated water vapor to rapidly fill the room and building, officials continued.

According to a release, Sims and O’Donnell were not able to evacuate the room and hence suffered fatal injuries.

It was also noted that there was no apparent criminal aspect.  

VA officials confirmed that Sims was an employee and U.S. Navy veteran, while O'Donnell was a contractor.

RELATED: VA Secretary comes to West Haven campus to honor employee killed in explosion

Three other people reported minor injuries related to this incident.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be continuing the investigation, assisted by CSP-FEIU, the State Building Inspector’s Office, and West Haven Police Detectives.

On November 20, Mulvaney Mechanical, Inc. released a letter about one of the victims involved: