Council considers renaming street for teen killed in gas disaster

CARL RUSSO/Staff file photoThe gas explosions and fires of Sept. 13 destroyed this house on Chickering Road killing Leonel Rondon, 18. A Lawrence city councilor has proposed renaming the street after Rondon.

LAWRENCE — The street where 18-year-old Leonel Rondon was killed when he pulled into a driveway beside a house that was one of the first to explode or catch fire in the Sept. 13 gas disaster would be renamed in his honor under a proposal the City Council is considering.

Rondon was the only fatality in the disaster, which injured dozens in South Lawrence and the Andovers, destroyed or damaged more than 100 homes in the three municipalities and prompted the evacuation of several thousand residents from South Lawrence over the weekend that followed.

Rondon, who was a student at the Phoenix Academy Charter School, died when a chimney on the house at 35 Chickering Road collapsed onto his car, crushing Rondon but sparing the friends who were riding with him to celebrate his first day with a driver's license. A young woman inside the house was badly injured.

Rondon's friends were unable to pull him from the car. Rescue crews that began arriving minutes after the explosion, led by Lawrence police Chief Roy Vasque, were able to free him. He died later at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The proposal to rename Chickering Road in Rondon's honor was made by City Councilor Brian DePena, who serves at large. He is in the Dominican Republic this week and did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

Chickering Road is in District F, which is represented by Councilor Marc Laplante. On Monday, he expressed concern about the changes renaming the street would require residents to make, including changing their addresses.

“I don't know if those residents were even asked or had a chance to comment about it,” Laplante said. “My guess is that they'll be concerned about it.”

The council is expected to refer it to a committee when it meets Wednesday.

Rondon's parents, who live on Chestnut Street in North Lawrence, could not be reached.

Chickering Road is a residential street about five blocks long. It runs southwest of Route 114 in South Lawrence, beginning at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Also Wednesday, the council will consider a second proposal by DePena to ask Stephen Bryant, president of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, to attend a council meeting on Nov. 20 to discuss the gas disaster.

Dean Lieberman, a spokesman for the company, did not return a phone call Monday.

About 8,600 buildings lost gas service in the disaster. Service has been restored to 2,093 residential addresses and 298 businesses, Columbia Gas said Monday. 

Recommended for you