No criminal charges yet filed against man injured by explosives
A 59-year-old Petersburg man was injured Sunday afternoon in the borough rock quarry after handling what explosive experts have identified as Tovex - a commercial grade explosive typically used for blasting in quarries, mines and road construction.
An individual called 911 around 1 p.m. reporting the injured man lying outside of the Petersburg Medical Center Emergency Room and informed dispatchers he could have been injured by dynamite, a Petersburg Police press release states.
"The injured person was able to speak to staff at the hospital and confirmed the injuries were the result of an explosion," the press release states. "Officers cordoned off the immediate area, then located what appeared to be approximately 20 pounds of a gelatinized substance in a vehicle that officers believed the injured person arrived at the hospital in. The injured person confirmed the substance located by officers was an explosive mixture."
Officers moved a large dump truck behind the vehicle and consulted with various explosive experts including Explosive Ordinance personnel from Fort Richardson, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and a construction company that regularly works with explosives.
After learning more about the material, Petersburg Public Works and ADOT staff moved the explosive materials away from the hospital.
Special agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms coordinated with local law enforcement to investigate three scenes including the quarry where the explosives were detonated.
Agents and officers served two search warrants on Monday in order to investigate the vehicle containing the explosives, a residence on North Nordic and a shop on Cornelius Road where investigators found the bulk of the explosives and a roll of detonating chord.
ATF Explosives Enforcement Officer Brennan Phillips said authorities have seized roughly 50 pounds of explosives.
"Companies would use hundreds to thousands of pounds of that sort of thing but that's (50 pounds) a lot for a private citizen to have in their possession," Phillips said. "We don't know how old it was. We think it was older but we don't know for sure."
Although police aren't releasing the individual's name, Mark Weaver owns the property where police searched. Weaver has a background in construction.
Police Chief Kelly Swihart said there's no evidence to suggest the individual was planning to harm others.
"There's some indication that he may have been trying to hurt himself and there's some indication that it could have been an accident," Swihart said. "We're still trying to piece that together. There's a lot of rumors flying around, and we've done some precautionary checks with the bomb dog from ATF, but we don't have any indication that he was trying to hurt anyone but possibly himself."
No criminal charges have been filed and Tovex is legal to possess providing an individual has the necessary permits and licenses, Swihart said.
"I'm not sure if this individual has those (licenses) or not," Swihart said. "The ATF is still researching that. If there's a crime here it's how they were put together and how they were used and that's what they were trying to figure out."
Phillips said federally required "date shift codes", which provides description and identification of the explosive material, had been removed from the seized Tovex.
Authorities are confident all explosive materials have been located and removed from the community.
"Through our investigation, we searched the areas we thought needed to be searched," Phillips said. We brought a fair amount of resources into Petersburg to work with the local police department...I think we've done a good thorough check."
A spokesperson from the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle did not return calls from the Pilot, but according to a Juneau Empire report, the injured individual was medevaced to the Seattle hospital after being treated at PMC and was listed in serious condition as of Tuesday.