Penn Hills graduate killed in explosion in downtown Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A 2015 Penn Hills graduate has been confirmed as the victim of a deadly explosion at Youngstown’s Chase Bank building.

Police tell Channel 11 news partner 21 News that the body of Akil Drake, 27, was found in the rubble overnight.

An explosion decimated what used to be a Chase Bank in Youngstown, Ohio on Tuesday afternoon.

The explosion in the 13-story building in the heart of downtown was reported just before 3 p.m., sending debris into the street and leading to the evacuations of people in nearby buildings.

PHOTOS: Downtown Youngstown building seriously damaged in explosion

All the utilities to the building have been shut off. Residents tell us around the time of the explosion they smelled gas, but the cause is still officially under investigation.

“We were just sitting outside and we heard like a big explosion… boom… and then we saw smoke coming from downtown,” Darcella Woodall said.

The explosion sent seven people to the hospital. One person is in critical condition, according to Fire Chief Barry Finley.

Initial reports were that two people were possibly unaccounted for: one man and one woman.

“They said he was missing. So I came down here to make sure they were going to start looking for him. I’m not going to leave until they start looking,” bank customer Marilyn Johnson said.

Johnson believes she knows one of the missing people.

“I always come in and talk to you guys and I’m wishing everybody is OK,” Johnson said.

The structural integrity of the building remains in question. The damage to the bank is severe, but the impact to the dozen floors of apartments above is unclear.

“We have no idea what caused the explosion. We know there was an explosion and it did a lot of damage to the bottom of the building,” Finley said.

Residents of the Realty Tower’s apartments are being housed at the nearby Covelli Centre and Helped by the Red Cross.

The Double Tree hotel next door remains evacuated as well.

The rest of the downtown buildings have been deemed safe at this time, but many roads remain closed.

Penn Hills School District released the following statement Wednesday:

Earlier today, the Penn Hills administration learned that one of our former students, Akil Drake, tragically lost his life in an explosion in Youngstown, Ohio. Akil was a 2015 Penn Hills graduate and a student athlete who excelled on the football field. The Penn Hills School District 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 University, where he graduated from in 2019, also released the following statement Wednesday:

The Youngstown State University family is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our alumni during the explosion in downtown yesterday. 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.

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW

Comments on this article