Local News

Kinston Employees, Families Meet One Year After Deadly Plant Explosion

Posted January 29, 2004

— An explosion that ripped through the West Pharmaceutical plant in Kinston one year ago could be heard nearly 30 miles away. Plant employees and their families gathered at Immanuel Baptist Church Thursday to remember the day. The same church was a staging area for rescue crews after the blast.

For many, it was a day of emotional reunions. A year ago, Jim Edwards wondered if he would make it out of the plant alive. On Thursday after a long recovery, he met with fellow survivors.

"I really wanted to come here today and, you know, see some of the family members and everything and let them know they're still in my thoughts," he said.

Wanda Green got out, but lost her best friend, Faye Wilkins, in the explosion.

"Thinking about Faye and the fun we used to have together and the laughing and fussing," Green said. "I miss her a lot."

Don Morel Jr., chief executive officer of the company, said the pain of the tragic event has not faded.

"To look into the eyes of the fathers, the mothers, the wives and the children, that is something that is going to stay with us for a long, long time," he said.

Production is slated to begin in late February at the new West Pharmaceutical Plant in Kinston. Those who lost their lives in the plant explosion will be remembered with a permanant memorial.

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