Local News

Burns from steam explosion killed Duke employee

Posted June 19, 2008
Updated June 30, 2008

— A preliminary report shows that the Duke University employee killed in a steam-pipe explosion last month died from burns to his skin and airways.

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled Rayford Cofer's death an accident.

Cofer, 63, worked as a master steamfitter for the university. He was in the mechanical room of the Levine Science Research Center when a steam line there burst May 14

People in the building were evacuated, building systems were shut down and sprinkler systems discharged after the explosion. The building was closed to students the next day.

A resident of Franklinton, Cofer was a 2002 and 2004  winner of the Meritorious Service Award, one of the top employee honors at Duke.


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  • fuzzmom Jun 20, 2008

    commonsensical, what makes you think lock out tag out was a factor?

  • Alicat Jun 20, 2008

    Such a sad story. God Bless this family as they mourn their loss

  • commonsensical Jun 19, 2008

    Very sad. All craftsmen who work with hazardous energy sources (steam, electricity, hydraulics, etc) should take a moment to stop and think - this could have been me. Don't take shortcuts, always isolate the equipment you're working on, release any stored energy, and never for a moment think that skipping lockout / tagout procedures is worth the 15 minutes that was saved in doing so.

  • clintoflannagan Jun 19, 2008

    Very sad. What a horrible way to go. Continued thoughts and prayers to the family.