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Family seeks justice for Army vet killed in Gaston plant explosion

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Columbia, S.C. (WACH)-- A widow has filed a wrongful death suit four months after her husband lost his life while working at a Gaston plant.

Motley Rice LCC and co-counsel Johnson, Toal & Battiste, P.A. have filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the widow of 63-year-old Alton Ray Zeigler.

Zeigler was tragically killed during a violent explosion in December of 2016 at a South Carolina branch of Eastman Chemical Company, DAK Americas.

Two others were severely burned in the incident.


The Zeigler’s attorney believes that the Columbia man’s death could have been prevented.

“Weeks before Christmas, Mr. Ziegler was the victim of what we believe was a preventable tragedy,” said George Johnson of the Johnson, Toal & Battiste law firm.

The federal suit alleges that the chemical plant neglect to adopt and implement adequate safety procedures and failed to exercise reasonable care and precautions that could have spared Zeigler’s life.

Zeigler was one of the three DAK Americas employees attempting to repair a leaking pump in a pipeline.

Other employees made pervious attempts to repair the leaking pump, however a fire occurred which is believed to have altered the chemical makeup of the pipeline and increased pressure within the pipeline by converting some of the liquid to gas.

The suit alleges that as a result of the increased pressure in the pipeline an explosion reputed while Ziegler and two other employees were working on the pipe.

“We believe that the increased pressure inside Eastman’s pipeline turned the conditions experienced by Mr. Zeigler and his co-workers from a pump removal into a bomb waiting to happen,” said Motley Rice the family’s attorney.

Attorney’s believe that the Eastman company knew or should have known the danger the altered chemicals posed to their employees, but that the company failed to warn their employees of the risks associated with the compromised pipeline.

Zeiger leaves behind his devoted wife, two adult children and two grandchildren. He served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army before retiring as a master sergeant and beginning a second career with DAK Americans.

Link to original story: One killed, two injured in workplace accident at Gaston plant

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