Breaking News
More () »

Former owner of contracting company responsible for O'Fallon home explosion speaks up

It was March 1, 2022, when a home in O’Fallon, Missouri exploded after contractors hit a natural gas line.

O'FALLON, Mo. — For the first time, we are hearing directly from the owner of the company that hit a gas line, causing a home explosion in O'Fallon. 

The Stout family said they have been living in limbo for the past 10 months. 

It all started when a home next door to them exploded from a gas leak. The Stouts were blaming their insurance company, but now said they should have been blaming the contractors that hit the gas line. 

In an exclusive interview, the owner of that contracting company told us he is no longer running the business.

RELATED: Family impacted by O'Fallon, Missouri, house explosion says there's no accountability

It was March 1, 2022, when a home in O’Fallon, Missouri exploded after contractors hit a natural gas line. Workers from JDK General Contractor were installing fiber optic cable. 

“We've got cracks in the foundation. We've got cracks in the walls, the floors of popped," Chris Stout, an O'Fallon resident whose home suffered damages, said. “We've got roof damage up here...we don't know how much damage is behind the drywall.”

For months, the Stouts were blaming their home insurance company. They had received about $60,000 for repairs, from Safeco Insurance, a Liberty Mutual company, but said they needed far more than that. So, they hired an attorney. In our reporting we connected the Stouts with local and national insurance experts. The family wishes they had worked more closely with their insurance from the beginning. They believe they have been pointing fingers in the wrong direction. 

“I think insurance was doing the right thing in and reaching out to try and help them and instead of blaming, you know, the contractors and the people that caused the damage, they went after the people that were trying to help them," Rachel Owens, Stout's daughter, said. 

We got on the phone with Georgia-based JDK General Contractor, whose crew hit the gas line. Mario Franco told us he is no longer running the business and wants to see change.  

“Knowing the reality of the dangers of installing fiber optic cable, do you think contractors need more insurance?” asked the I-Team's Paula Vasan.

“Yeah, everybody needs the bigger insurance because I see what happened," Mario Franco, the former owner of JDK General Contractor, said.

He told us he was required to have a $1 million insurance policy. It won’t cover all the damage. He wishes he had double. 

“What do you want to say to the families who've been affected by this explosion?” asked Vasan.

“I feel very bad because I never knew this would happen," he said. 

A check of Georgia’s Secretary of State website shows JDK General Contractor is still an active business. The Stout Family said their struggle shows how contractors need not only bigger insurance policies, but also more training.  

A source familiar with the situation in O'Fallon encourages homeowners who have been impacted by the house explosion to go through various insurance policies in order to be fairly compensated — from their home insurance to the general contractor and subcontractor.  

A spokesperson with the Stout family’s home insurance company told us the company does not publicly discuss claims. 

“Our customer advocacy team is contacting the customers directly to discuss their concerns,” the Safeco Insurance spokesperson told us in an email.

If there's something newsworthy happening where you live send us an email to tips@ksdk.com and our team of reporters will look into it.

Before You Leave, Check This Out