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Pittsburgh native Akil Drake killed in Youngstown building explosion

Pittsburgh native killed in downtown Youngstown building explosion
Pittsburgh native killed in downtown Youngstown building explosion 02:18

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (KDKA) — The identity of the victim killed in an explosion that rocked downtown Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon has been released. 

He was identified as 27-year-old Pittsburgh native Akil Drake by the Mahoning County Coroner's Office. 

Akil Drake was killed when a building in downtown Youngstown, Ohio, exploded on May 28, 2024. Credit: Provided

The building that exploded houses a Chase Bank at the bottom. Drake was an employee of the bank and was working at the time of the explosion. 

Chase Bank provided KDKA-TV with the following statement: 

"The JPMorgan Chase family mourns the loss of our colleague. Our hearts go out to their family as well as our injured employees, their families, and others affected by this tragedy. We will continue to work with local officials to support them."

Drake graduated from Penn Hills High School in 2015. He played football at Penn Hills, which led to his off-the-field role with the Youngstown State football team in college. His hard work and determination are what people close to him are remembering.

The devastating news was tough for John Peterman, Drake's former football coach at Penn Hills. He said Drake was the type of player every coach wanted. 

"He was always doing what we asked him to do, which was a great attribute of his," Peterman said.

That hard work carried over to Youngstown State, where Drake worked on shooting, editing and producing the football film study videos under Mark Preto. He graduated in 2019 after majoring in finance. 

"He worked hard. He was someone that you wanted to see do well in life or help out if you can," Preto said.

Drake is being remembered by those close to him for his smile.

"Whether it was at football practice, in school, in the hallways, he was always in a happy mood," Peterman said.

Drake pushed himself through school and always worked to push himself forward. Preto felt Drake was getting everything together in life. This tragedy has left him speechless about what he would say to Drake's family and loved ones.

"Nothing could express what they're going through. I could say thoughts and prayers, but that gets thrown around too much," Preto said.

In a statement to KDKA-TV, the Penn Hills School District said, in part, that it "extends its deepest sympathies to Akil's family as well as the other individuals impacted by this tragic explosion. Akil will be missed by us all."

Youngstown State said in a statement to KDKA-TV that, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Akil's family and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time. We also extend our heartfelt condolences to those who were injured and their families, as well as to all those affected by this incident."

Seven hurt in explosion, some remain hospitalized

Along with the death of the 27-year-old Drake, seven people were hurt in the explosion that rocked the bank and apartment building at the Realty Building on East Federal Street around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley said seven people were taken to the hospital and one of them was placed on a ventilator. The mayor of Youngstown said six of them worked at the bank. 

As of Tuesday, one person is in critical condition, three were treated and released, and three others remain in the hospital, according to our CBS affiliate, WBKN

Cause of explosion remains unknown

Gas has since been shut off on the entire block as a precaution as work continues to determine what caused the blast that blew out the first floor of the 13-story building. 

While it is still unknown, witnesses said it "felt like a mini earthquake." 

"It was a loud bang," said Damia Rizwan who lives a block away from where the explosion happened. "My building shook."  

In a post on the social media platform X on Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said it is "launching pipeline and hazardous materials investigators" to the scene.

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