More than two months after the fatal apartment explosion at Texas A&M, the University will have its chance to investigate. A Task force was appointed today by President Robert Gates to look into the July 31 accident.
Two people died after the explosion in their on campus apartment in Hensel Terrace. Two others were injured. An investigation by the State Fire Marshals' office pinpointed a gas leak as the cause.
Since then, A&M made several changes to its maintenance and safety policies. The Task Force will investigate those changes and evaluate how well they are working. President Gates says the presidential task force's overall charge will be, "To investigate the management, organizational and communications issues associated with the university administration as those issues relate to the University Apartments." President Gates has also asked the group to look at communication problems that may have led to the accident. Other duties include investigating communication policies, structural problems, staff response to the accident overall, as well as looking into any other safety issues that haven't been addressed.
On the Presidential Task Force are:
Dr. Ricky Griffin, Executive Assoc. Dean of the Mays Business School
Dr. Sam Mannan, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of the Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center
Josh Peschel, graduate student in Biological and Agricultural Engineering
Dr. Scott Poole, Professor of Communications and Director of the CommLab
Rahul Ribeiro, President of the University Apartments Community
Council and a Mechanical Engineering Graduate Assistant
Dr. Valerie Taylor, Head of the Department of Computer Science and holder of the Stewart and Stevenson Professorship;
Ken Theut of Katy, a retired Accenture executive
Dr. James W. Vick, Vice President for Student Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.
According to Lane Stephenson, an A&M Spokesperson, the groups should begin their investigation right away. Their report is expected by mid November.