An early morning explosion on the Princeton University campus last Thursday left six construction workers with injuries, none of which was life-threatening.
A 100-pound propane tank on the site of the University's not yet completed Whitman College, just northeast of the Dinky station, exploded at 8:29 a.m. The campus was not particularly crowded, many students having left for the holidays.
According to Princeton Borough Police Lt. Dennis McManimon, an investigation following the incident indicated that the propane tank that was inside one of the buildings but hooked up to a heater outside the building started leaking. Workers who had heard the leak made an attempt to remove the tank from the building.
During this transfer it was likely that a valve was knocked off the tank while passing closely to the heater, Lt. McManimon said, resulting in the explosion.
Tom Lebrosciano, 22, of Glenolden, Pa., and Christopher Meletti, 26, of Lambertville, both sustained superficial facial burns and were treated at the University Medical Center at Princeton. Both men have since been released.
Brian Coppola, 39, of Bristol Pa., who also suffered minor facial injuries, was released from Helene Fuld in Trenton. Three other men, Tyrie Jenkins Jr., 49, of Nashville, Tenn. (complaint of pain), William Stephens IV, 54, of Glennside, Pa. (shoulder injury), and Martin Makowski, 31, of Greenville, Pa. (minor facial burns and injuries to his right hand), had not been released as of press time. Mr. Makowski was transferred from Fuld to Temple Hospital in Philadelphia.
All six men are members of the Philadelphia union, Bricklayers Local 1 and were transported to their respective hospitals by the Princeton, West Windsor, Lawrence, Hopewell, Titusville and Plainsboro First Aid Squads. An investigation by the Borough Police Department, the University's Department of Public Safety, and the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office is currently underway.
Construction for Whitman College began in 2004 and has a targeted completion date of 2006. The hall will provide dormitory, dining, social, cultural, educational, and recreational space for 500 undergraduates and 10 graduate students. It will also provide office and teaching space for the Princeton Writing Program.
The college will also enable the University to increase the school's overall undergraduate population by 500 students in 125-student increments over a four-year period beginning in the fall of 2007.
The $110 million, 290,000 square-foot residential college on the grounds of the former "pagoda" tennis courts is named after Meg Whitman, president and chief executive of eBay and a 1977 graduate and trustee of the University. Ms. Whitman, the college's principal sponsor, donated $30 million toward the college's construction in 2002.
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