LAWRENCE (CBS) – The sister of Leonel Rondon, killed in September’s Merrimack Valley gas explosions, broke down in tears Monday as she described to a Senate committee the “unbearable” grief of losing her brother.
Rondon had just gotten his driver’s license and was sitting in the driveway of a friend in Lawrence when a chimney, split in two by the force of the blast, collapsed and crushed his SUV. He was 18 years old.
“Words cannot describe the pain my family and I feel at the loss of my brother Leonel,” Lucianny Rondon testified at the hearing, held at South Lawrence East Middle School. “This senseless tragedy is the beginning of many things my family and I will never do with Leonel again.”
She said her brother had “such a warm heart” and was kind from a young age, helping neighbors to shovel snow and carry groceries.
“We will not have the joy of seeing the wonderful man we know he would have become,” Rondon said.
Rondon, seated next to her parents, cried as she told the committee “I will never have my brother back.” But her family hopes there is justice for a community devastated by the explosions.
“We will never forget him. We will not let this loss be without meaning,” she said. “The grief we feel is unbearable but we know Leonel would want us to stay strong.”
The Rondons earned a standing ovation from everyone in the room.
“Your powerful statement is something that we’ll always remember,” Sen. Ed Markey said.