Roanoke man indicted in connection with 2019 Rockbridge County gas station explosion that killed 4 people

Owner, two employees and a customer died in the explosion

In the announcement of his indictment, authorities did not release any information about what caused the deadly explosion.

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. – A grand jury has indicted a Roanoke man in connection with an explosion that killed four people.

On Thursday, a special grand jury in Rockbridge County indicted Phillip Ray Westmoreland on four counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths caused by the explosion at the South River Market on May 10, 2019.

Westmoreland is the man who was driving the fuel delivery truck that day, according to Virginia State Police.

In the announcement of his indictment, authorities did not release any information about what caused the deadly explosion.

The market’s owner, Roger Lee Roberts, two employees, Kevin Tate Roberts and Samantha Gail Lewis, as well as a patron, Paul Dewayne Ruley, died in the explosion.

After the explosion, Rockbridge County authorities requested that Virginia State Police investigate the incident.

In December 2019, State Police supplied its investigative files to the Rockbridge County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and upon review Commonwealth’s Attorney for Rockbridge County Jared Moon petitioned the Rockbridge County Circuit Court to impanel a special grand jury to continue with the investigation.

The special grand jury was initially ordered to convene in April 2020; however, with the declaration of the statewide judicial emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, until December.

Another COVID delay prevented December’s proceedings until March when they were finally able to happen.

Westmoreland was arrested Friday in Roanoke and transferred to Rockbridge Regional Jail, where he’s currently in custody.

Online court records did not indicate when Westmoreland would make an appearance.