One year after a Dallas 12-year-old girl lost her life in a gas explosion, her family is sharing a video of their daughter taken just moments before the blast.
The family says they are speaking out now because they don’t want what happened to them to happen to anyone else.
Early February 23, 2018, Michellita Rogers was so excited about her cheerleading competition that she took video of her preparations. But Michellita never got to go that competition. The explosion happened while she was styling her hair. Her parents were awakened by the blast.
Maria Rogers became emotional when thinking about the future her daughter will never have.
“She always say she want to be a top, top doctor,” Maria said.
The Rogers say they had no warning signs. There weren’t any odors of leaking gas before the explosion.
But Atmos did have warning signs.
In the two days before the home blew up, two other nearby homes had gas-related incidents. One was a fire while the other one resulted in an explosion. All three homes share a steel pipeline that Atmos determined was cracked after running a pressure test. A neighbor who called 911 immediately made the connection.
A preliminary report by the NTSB says Atmos had detected leaks in the neighborhood as early as January 1, but no one in the neighborhood was told.
“They killed my daughter,” Maria said.
Attorney Ted Lyon represents the Rogers in a lawsuit against Atmos. He says he’s worried that what happened to Michelita could happen to another family.
“I’m very worried because I know it’s going to happen,” he said. “Based on years in the past, this same type of accident is going to happen. I believe that.”
Days after the deadly explosion, Atmos ordered temporary evacuations and began replacing old pipeline throughout Michelita’s neighborhood.
Atmos says since the explosion, the company has replaced 98 miles of pipe in Dallas, which is 75% more than all of 2017, increased crews by 250% and filed plans to complete removal of cast iron by December 2021.
But it all feels far too late for the Rogers
“They broke my heart,” Maria said. “I don’t want another family to live how I live now.”
Data released earlier by Atmos shows state regulators had been finding grade one leaks every year and pipes that were not properly protected from corrosion, but the Texas Railroad Commission had not issued any fines for safety violations.
State Representative Rafael Anchia has introduced a package of bills to provide more oversight of natural gas companies like Atmos. They are waiting to be referred to committee right now.