By Beth Germano

LAWRENCE (CBS) – A Lawrence family that lost their home in the Merrimack Valley explosions is suing Columbia Gas for “gross negligence”.

Attorney Socrates Delacruz who represents the Figueroa family says it’s a tragedy, “that was preventable and should have been prevented.”

The lawsuit holds the utility responsible for “substantial personal injury and profound pain and suffering they are experiencing,” said Delacruz.

chickering1 Lawrence Family Sues Columbia Gas After Fatal Explosion

Home on Chickering Road demolished after gas explosion (WBZ-TV)

Two explosions rocked the Chickering Rd. home two weeks ago. It’s here their friend 18-year-old Leonel Rondon lost his life when a chimney collapsed crushing the car he was sitting in with 18-year-old Christian Figueroa and Figueroa’s 17-year-old brother.

Inside the home, Omayra Figueroa was thrown by the blasts and struggled through the debris to help her daughter Shakira who could no longer feel her legs.

Her “face was the only part of her that remained visible,” according to the lawsuit. She suffered “catastrophic crushing injuries to her pelvis and legs” for which she’s undergone multiple surgeries including a fourth surgery Thursday.

shakira Lawrence Family Sues Columbia Gas After Fatal Explosion

Shakira was injured when a Lawrence home exploded (Family photo)

“We are here to hold accountable those who failed us and to be sure we are never failed again,” said Delacruz outside Lawrence Superior Court where he filed the suit. He says the family, left homeless, was “couch surfing” for a place to stay in the days after the blast and now are just trying to recover.

The suit doesn’t specify monetary damages but Delacruz says it goes beyond that. “The only thing we can try and do is make this family as whole as possible,” Delacruz said.

In a statement, Steve Bryant, President of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts said, “We are heartbroken about the family’s loss and will continue to do what we can to help them at this terribly difficult time.”

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