Crown Point, IN Gas Explosion, June 1962


Crown Point, Ind. (AP) -- Four members of a Lake County family were killed Wednesday night when a propane gas explosion flattened their frame farm house at suppertime, leaving "nothing over a foot long."
Cement blocks were ripped from basement walls and hurled 80 yards in what Crown Point Fire Chief Albert Retting called "the worst explosion I've seen in my life."
Sheriff's deputies identified the victims as MRS. VIRGINIA IRENE TEITGE, 40, and her three children, PEGGY JEAN GORRELL, 15; RONALD WAYNE GORRELL, 10, and GARY LYNN GORRELL, 4.
The husband and step-father, EARL TEITGE, 43, who screamed an order to leave the house just seconds too late, suffered severe burns over his entire body and was listed in serious condition in Gary Methodist Hospital.
The explosion was heard in Crown Point, three miles away, and one neighbor, Mrs. Delphus Chaffer, said she saw a refrigerator "tossed at least 50 feet into the air."
Meryl Borman, who was working in a field on his farm a mile away, said he saw a huge cloud of smoke and flying debris which "mushroomed up like a bomb."
Another neighbor, Herschel Rainwater, said he dashed to the scene and found TEITGE stumbling dazed through the rubble "running around and looking for his family."
Retting said splintered wood -- "nothing over a foot long" -- was strewn for 300 yards along with shredded furniture and tattered clothing.
Neighbors took the injured TEITGE to his brother's house in Merrillville, four miles away, and he was transferred to the Gary hospital, where he gave deputies this account of the tragedy.
The family was eating supper when TEITGE smelled gas and went outside to shut off a line leading from a propane storage tank into the one story frame house.
TEITGE went to the basement to investigate further, and heavy fumes prompted him to scream for his wife and step-children to run from the house.
Just then the fumes exploded, apparently touched off by a gas heater pilot light. Deputies said they found four sticks of dynamite in the heap of debris, but believed they were not connected with the blast.

Logansport Press Indiana 1962-06-28