Testimony continues in Rockbridge County gas station explosion

The explosion happened in May of 2019 at the South River Market

The jurors heard gruesome testimony about all that the deceased endured that morning

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. – On day one of the trial into the deadly Rockbridge County gas station explosion, the Commonwealth Attorney stated the defendant overfilled gasoline tanks by more than 800 gallons – an action alleged to have played a role in the 2019 explosion.

Phillip Westmoreland delivered gas to South River Market that May morning and an explosion happened less than an hour later.

Westmoreland was charged with involuntary manslaughter, and now the jury is weighing whether anything he did that day could have caused the blast.

On Monday, the jury heard from Peter McClellan, a mechanical engineer called as an expert for the Commonwealth.

McClellan got into the weeds of combustible energy sources, gasoline tank quantity, and more technicalities.

The defense was hard on McClellan’s investigative work, questioning why certain possibilities weren’t considered and whether he is even qualified to speak on these matters.

“Those are the two possibilities you considered. Was it either an overfill or, in your words, was it simply a matter of it wasn’t vented properly when the tank was being filled,” questioned defense attorney Rob Dean.

Forensic Pathologists also delivered grim news about the deceased fires.


About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.