Latest on Weinbach Avenue blast, coroner releases autopsies of victims

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) – The coroner has released preliminary causes of death for the three people who died in last week’s home explosion in N. Weinbach.

[Previous: Section of Weinbach Avenue to stay closed through weekend]

Deputy Coroner David Anson says the preliminary cause of death for Charles and Martina Hite is blunt force trauma to the chest, and the preliminary cause of death for Jessica Teague is compression asphyxiation.

Division Chief Mike Larson of the Evansville Fire Department says Monday begins the slow and methodical process of the investigation.

Monday is the first day crews were able to get behind the fence and investigate the area where the blast occurred.

Chief Larson says the investigation is now in the hands of the Indiana Fire Marshals Office.

He says crews on scene have heavy equipment moving large pieces of debris so detectives can move.

Evansville water and sewer utility crews were also on site Monday to inspect a 24-inch and 36-inch storm line, as well as a 36-inch sewer combination that is located under North Weinbach Avenue.

Chief Larson says this investigation will move slowly because the crews want to be as thorough as possible.

“It’s going to be a while,” Larson said. “I don’t know exactly when we can have any answers, but we don’t have a chance to do it a second time. So they’re being very, very careful as they go through the process and make sure that we leave no stone unturned.”

Chief Larson says answers about what caused the explosion or when North Weinbach Avenue will reopen are all that are needed.

He says that an investigation like this is very tedious.

“I can’t stress enough that this is a very slow process,” Larson said. “I mean, it’s really just that you’re moving small pieces just one piece at a time to make sure you don’t disturb any of those tests. Making sure we can get to the bottom of this and find out exactly what happened a week ago.”

On Monday morning, we heard from Teague’s mother, Rebecca Nelson.

She sent us the following statement:

“Jessica was an amazing and wonderful person. She loved all of God’s creatures, great and small. Jessica hated any kind of animal abuse, and God help you if she ever caught someone doing something to the smallest insect (especially a cat) the blue whale. Jess went to Henderson Community College and got an associate degree in computer science which she worked hard to achieve. She worked at Rural King and Red Banks Retirement Home during college. Jessica currently worked at Toyota Bushuku on the night shift. Jessica loved her friends/coworkers of hers in Bushuku. Jessica was so proud of herself that she had saved enough to buy a house instead of living in an apartment on South Green River Road. Jessica’s interest was in anime and video games in part of her spare time. Her main focus was on her two cats, Pepper and Bell, who she loved very much. We would rather mourn the beautiful life of her in private right now.”

Funeral arrangements for the Hites are set for Tuesday.

Among the three deceased are Charles Hite, 43, and his wife, Martina, 37.
Among the three deceased are Charles Hite, 43, and his wife, Martina, 37.(WFIE)

The explosion damaged 39 homes.

[Related Story: Friends use Special Olympics medals to honor explosion victims]

[Related Story: Family mourns and remembers married couple killed in Weinbach explosion]

[Related Story: Section of Weinbach Avenue to stay closed through weekend]

[Related Story: Officials: 3 people dead, 39 homes damaged after house explosion in Evansville]

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