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Press Release

U-Haul and Employee Charged with Violations of Hazardous Materials Regulations in Fatal Explosion

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams today announced that U-Haul Company of Pennsylvania and Miguel Rivera, the general manager of U-Haul’s Hunting Park location, were charged today with violating hazardous materials regulations. One of the alleged violations led to two fatalities.

The six-count indictment alleges the defendants violated United States Department of Transportation regulations related to classifying, handling, and packaging hazardous materials. The indictment further alleges that defendants filled two propane cylinders on June 29, 2014, and that one of those cylinders ruptured on July 1, 2014 while attached to a food truck parked on a Philadelphia public street. The indictment alleges the escaping propane ignited and briefly enveloped the food truck in a fireball, leading to the deaths of two people and grave injury to others nearby.

If convicted, U-Haul Company of Pennsylvania faces a maximum possible sentence of 5 years of probation, with a mandatory minimum term of 1 year of probation, a $3,000,000 fine, and a special assessment of $2,400. Miguel Rivera faces 15 years in prison, a 3-year period of supervised release, a $500,000 fine and a $200 special assessment.

The case was investigated by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Philadelphia Police and the Philadelphia Fire Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Abrams.                                                             

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated June 12, 2018