(MIDDLETOWN, CT – November 19, 2020) – The Connecticut State Police is releasing the following
update at the request of the Veteran’s Administration and the West Haven Fire Department.
On November 13, 2020, at approximately 8:14 a.m., personnel assigned to the Connecticut State Police
Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit (CSP-FEIU) responded to the report of a steam boiler explosion at 950
Campbell Avenue, VA Connecticut Healthcare System West Haven Campus, Building #22.
Initial reports indicated there were multiple people injured with several fatalities, and on-going search
efforts for additional victims. The investigation was able to confirm two (2) fatalities; later identified as; Euel
Sims (DOB 10/11/60), an employee of the VA Facility Maintenance Service and, Joseph O’Donnell (DOB
08/25/84) an employee of a contractor working on the steam system. Three (3) other people reported minor
injuries related to this incident.
Investigators from the Department of Veteran Affairs Police Service, DEEP, FBI, ATF, State Building
Inspector, OSHA, West Haven Fire Department, West Haven Fire Marshal’s Office, West Haven Police Detective
Bureau, Office of Inspector General, and the OCME responded to the scene.
CSP-FEIU was assigned to take the lead, with ATF assistance, on determining the origin and cause of the
explosion. The West Haven Police Department is tasked with investigating the untimely deaths.
The CSP-FEIU investigation has 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. The two occupants working on the system were not able to evacuate the room and
suffered fatal injuries. There was no apparent criminal aspect.
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
Pic credit: USA Today