Man who died in tanker explosion was decorated Army veteran

(Photo courtesy of David Sweatt)
(Photo courtesy of David Sweatt)(KWTX)
Published: Aug. 12, 2016 at 5:13 AM CDT
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The man who died last Friday in a tanker truck explosion in Killeen was a decorated Army veteran.

Anthony Dean DeJesus retired from the U.S. Army as a Sgt. Major who retired from Fort Hood in 2009 after combat tours in Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991, in Kosovo from November 1999 to July 2000 and in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2005.

Police still have not released any information about what happened last Friday when an SUV crashed into a gasoline delivery truck in the parking lot of a Mickey’s store that resulted in an explosion and intense fire that consumed both the gasoline tanker, DeJesus’ pick-up truck and a Killeen fire truck.

Police late Monday afternoon identified DeJesus, 49, of Killeen as the driver who died early Friday morning when an SUV crashed into a gasoline tanker outside a Killeen convenience store, causing a powerful explosion and fire that spread to a convenience store and forced dozens of nearby residents to evacuate.

DeJesus was pronounced dead at the scene just after 9:35 a.m. Friday.

He died of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, according to a preliminary autopsy report.

The SUV collided with the gasoline tanker that was delivering fuel to a Mickey’s store just before 4:30 a.m. Friday in the 4500 block of East Veteran’s Memorial Boulevard.

The collision resulted in an explosion that led to a fire that engulfed both vehicles and eventually spread to the store and some other vehicles that were parked in the parking lot.

Dozens of residents on South 56th and 58th Streets, Water Street and on Twin Creeks Drive at the Twin Creeks Apartments, were evacuated as a precaution, fire officials said.

The 55 area residents who were evacuated were told to go to the Killeen Special Events Center and then later were moved to the community center.

By Friday afternoon, residents of the apartment complex and those whose homes are on 56th Street were allowed to return home, but homes on 58th Street remained off limits

The city established (254) 501-6362 as a contact number for families to check on loved ones in the affected area.

Business 190 and 38th Street eastbound, Business 190 and Roy Reynolds westbound, MLK at Twin Creek, Zephyr Road at MLK and Twin Creek at Rancier were closed in the aftermath of the explosion, police said.

The resulting fire also caused power outages in the neighborhoods around the scene but it wasn’t clear early on how many customers were affected.

A Killeen fire truck was destroyed when gasoline from the tanker flowed under the rig and set it on fire, police spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez said.

No firefighters were injured, she said.

The Killeen Fire Department requested mutual aid from Fort Hood Fire to help contain the blaze.

Also Killeen’s hazmat unit was called to the scene after firefighters discovered gasoline from the ruptured tanker truck had spilled onto the parking lot and was running into a small creek that spills into Nolan Creek downstream.

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX)—Police were asking residents to try to avoid the area of the explosion Friday afternoon.

Traffic was stacked up at Zephyr Road and Jeffries Avenue and on Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard from Zephyr to Water Street.

Policed urged residents to seek alternate routes.