Officials close apartment complex in Columbia due to gas leaks after 2 found dead

Officials close apartment complex in Columbia due to gas leaks after 2 found dead
(Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - An apartment complex in Columbia has been closed by authorities due to gas leaks after 2 were found dead Thursday morning.

The incident happened at the Allen Benedict Court Apartments off of Read Street and Harden Street. Columbia Fire officials said that several gas leaks were found at the complex on Thursday night and inspections continued Friday morning.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts identified the two individuals who were found deceased in their apartments after authorities responded to welfare checks on each of them. No foul play is suspected regarding these deaths, the coroner said.

Calvin Witherspoon, Jr., 61, of Columbia, was found deceased in his apartment. The coroner also identified Derrick Caldwell Roper, 30, of Columbia.

The two victims were found in two different units separated by another unit. The first call was a welfare check after one of the victims didn’t show up for work. Once inside, investigators found the deceased.

During the investigation that followed, Columbia Firefighters found levels of gas or Carbon Monoxide in 65 units Thursday night. More than 400 residents live in the 244 units on the property, officials said.

Any cases of residents being displaced by the gas leaks will be handled by the Columbia Housing Authority, according to Columbia Fire officials. Temporary housing and food will be provided to residents.

Residents of the apartment building where two people were found dead say they’ve smelled an odor of gas for weeks and reported it but nothing was done.

“Gas fumes, I may get that once a month,” said resident Tami Palmer. “And I’m only speaking for myself, I can’t speak about residents. But sewer fumes almost daily, to the point where I cannot even have company over because I’m embarrassed.

The Executive Director of Columbia Housing Authority said that Allen Benedict Court Apartments is the 3rd oldest public housing complex in the nation.

WATCH LIVE: Officials update on gas leak investigation after 2 found dead at Allen Benedict Apartments in Columbia>>https://bit.ly/2W5nCFw

Posted by WIS TV on Friday, January 18, 2019

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