One UTA student killed, another burned in Arlington garage explosion

ARLINGTON (WFAA) -- The mother of a college student stood in the driveway of an Arlington home Friday afternoon, staring at a garage door.

She said she wanted to see the place where her son died in an explosion about 11 p.m. Thursday.

Police say 24-year-old Jared Backus and Dustin Louis, 23, were inside a garage in the 5100 block of Hedgeapple Court, near the intersection of West Sublett Road and South Bowen Road, Thursday night.

Investigators believe the two were tampering with commercial-grade fireworks - the kind you can buy on the roadside. The explosion was confined to the garage.

Neighbors flooded 911 lines and some rushed to help. News 8 spoke with a man who was watching television with his wife when it happened.

There was a large explosion with a few pops right after that. I was looking out the back cause we thought maybe there were kids in the yard.

Michael Rohan, neighbor

"There was a large explosion with a few pops right after that. I was looking out the back cause we thought maybe there were kids in the yard. She ran out front and screaming that it was next door," Michael Rohan said.

Rohan ran outside to find Louis begging for help -- saying his friend, Backus, was still inside the smoldering garage. He was pronounced dead.

Louis is burned on 80 percent of his body. He was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

The young men were 2009 classmates at Martin High School and now attend UT Arlington. Relatives say Dustin Louis is also an Eagle Scout.

Dustin Louis' parents were out of state to take their daughter to college when the explosion happened. Relatives say they are still trying to get back to see their son at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

Two dogs were also inside the home at the time, but they were not injured.

Our 5 p.m. report on a fatal fireworks explosion that occurred in Arlington on Aug. 29, 2014. WFAA

Neighbors tell News 8 that they tried to help by calling 911, but couldn't reach anyone. Despite that, firefighters arrived on the scene within five minutes of the explosion.

"My wife, myself and several others kept dialing 911 and [it was] going to a recording, and that was the big frustrating part because you're just feeling helpless trying to help the victim and the other individual and nobody was. There was no way we could get a hold of anybody." Rohan said.

"On this incident specifically, you had several calls at one time coming into 'call-take,'" Lt. Lee Tovar with the Arlington Fire Department said. "Best plan of action for a resident calling in is to stay on the phone. Stay on the line and they'll get to you as soon as they can."

A fire department spokesman said it's unclear what caused the fireworks to explode. The investigation is ongoing.

AUG. 29, 2014: One person is dead and another is in critical condition after an explosion inside a Southwest Arlington garage. (Photo: WFAA)

 


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