Scholarship created in gas disaster victim's name

BOSTON Doug Sheff, of Sheff Law Offices, PC, speaks to reporters on Wednesday, July 10, about a scholarship that will be created in the name of Leonel Rondon, the 18-year-old Lawrence teenager killed during the Sept. 13 Merrimack Valley gas explosions. Sheff was joined by members of the Rondon family and attorneys who worked on the case. July 10, 2019

BOSTON — The law firm which represented the family of Leonel Rondon, the 18-year-old Lawrence man who was killed in the Sept. 13 Merrimack Valley gas explosions, will set up a scholarship in his name.

"Leonel Rondon was a loving supportive family member and friend," Doug Sheff told reporters Wednesday at his Boston law office, flanked by Rondon family members. "He was only 18-years-old and very much full of life. He loved science and music, but most of all he loved his family and he will be sorely missed forever."

Sheff said the scholarships would to "encourage fire and explosives prevention in the future, as well as public safety."

"We will continue to work with the Rondons in order to maintain a safe environment for all of us and our loved ones," he said. "Let us never allow such a catastrophe to happen again."

The announcement follows news of a settlement between the family and Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, the utility company responsible for the Sept. 13 disaster.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Sheff didn't take questions, citing the terms of the settlement, or provide details about how much money would be made available for the scholarships or how they will be disbursed.

Family members who attended the briefing also didn't speak or take questions from the media.

Columbia Gas also has announced plans to establish a scholarship fund in Rondon's name, which will be separate from the settlement.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at

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