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Memorial Service For Worker Who Suffered Fatal Injuries In Durham Gas Explosion

A block of North Duke Street remains closed more than two weeks after a gas leak sparked an explosion that killed two and damaged 15 buildings.
Elizabeth Friend

A memorial service will be held Tuesday for Jay Rambeaut, the gas company worker who died last week of injuries from the April 10 gas leak explosion in Durham.

His sister-in-law Donna Jackson remembered the 51-year-old Creedmoor resident as someone who loved helping his neighbors and spending time with his family.

“We want people to know him other than [as] a victim from an explosion,” said Jackson. “He’s somebody that mattered to a lot of people. He’s somebody that cared and was well-respected and well-thought-of.”

A portrait of Jay Rambeaut
Credit Donna Jackson
Jay Rambeaut

Rambeaut worked for PSNC for more than two decades as a first responder investigating gas leaks. Jackson said he never talked about the dangerous nature of his work.

He was investigating a leak on North Duke Street when the gas ignited, sparking an explosion that damaged 15 buildings.  

“We turned the TV on and we see the truck,” Jackson recalled. “We all recognized his truck by the cooler in the back of it. So we immediately know, ‘Oh my God, he was that close to the explosion, he’s got to be hurt.’”

He suffered severe injuries including burns, broken bones and brain trauma.  

In the weeks since the blast, Jackson said the community has come together to support Rambeaut’s wife and son.

“Everybody is helping everybody,” she said. “The community outreach has been amazing.”

Kaffeinate coffee shop owner Kong Lee was also killed in the blast, and 25 others were injured. State and local officials are still investigating how the gas line was ruptured.

Elizabeth Friend grew up in North Carolina listening to public radio in the backseat of the family station wagon. She has been reporting and producing at WUNC since 2016, covering everything from Army history to armadillos. She's also the co-founder of the beloved summer event series Audio Under The Stars. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the outside world with her family, dabbling in esoteric crafts, and cheese.
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