Evidence at deadly blast site in northwest Houston to be preserved after victims’ families file lawsuit

HOUSTON – A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the family of Frank Flores, an employee who was killed early Friday morning in an explosion at Watson Grinding & Manufacturing.

Flores’ family members claim employees were never warned that the plant wasn’t safe.

On Monday afternoon, a judge granted an order ensuring all evidence to be preserved as investigators try to determine the cause of the blast.

1. What is the order?

The judge granted a temporary restraining order.

2. Who asked for the temporary restraining order?

Two separate requests were filed in the courts: One by the attorney representing Frank Flores’s family, and another TRO was filed by the attorney representing the family of Gerardo Castorena’s, another employee killed in the blast.

3. What’s included in the temporary restraining order?

Under the TRO, all physical evidence from the blast site must be preserved along with all documents related to the purchase of propylene, the chemical that was being stored at the facility. All witness statements and pictures and videos, including surveillance images related to the incident, must be preserved. Any statements given to government agencies and electronic data stored on and off-site must also be preserved.

4. What’s next?

Muhammad Aziz, the attorney representing the Flores family, hopes to have a team of inspectors inside the blast zone before the week is over. A survey of the site is also planned from the air using a high-resolution camera. Two more hearings are scheduled. One on Feb. 6 and another on Feb. 10 in civil court.

5. What is the company saying?

An attorney representing Watson Grinding & Manufacturing had no comment after Monday’s proceedings.

The company referred KPRC 2 to a statement it sent out Friday after the deadly blast occurred:

"Watson Grinding and Manufacturing experienced an incident in the early hours of January 24, 2020, that resulted in the fatalities of two of our employees and impacted our operations.

"We are saddened by the tragic passing of our coworkers, and our deepest sympathies are with their families for their profound loss.

"We are working diligently to address the situation and cooperating with the federal, state and local authorities investigating the accident. We are extremely grateful for the brave efforts of first responders who were on the scene immediately, and we will continue to give our full cooperation and support to their efforts.

"Our hearts go out to the families and businesses impacted by this incident and to our community. At this time our immediate concern is the safety and well-being of everyone in the area and our employees.

“Further updates will be provided as more information becomes available.”

How KPRC 2 handles naming minors

  • How it works: There is no law preventing media from reporting the names of juveniles, but KPRC 2 makes every effort to protect anyone under 18 years old.
  • What we did in this instance: The faces of the Flores children were blurred out to protect their identity as we cover the circumstances surrounding their father’s death.
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