Ruth Berg, a 47-year-old business assistant at Minnehaha Academy and engaged mother, was identified as the victim who died in an explosion that demolished part of the school building in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The cause of the explosion is believed to be a gas leak. Nine others were also wounded in the blast, and three of those people were in critical condition after it.
“It’s just a very precarious situation, it’s very, very unstable, there are no signs of (the missing person’s) obvious location and we know there are probably at least two floors of debris,” Fire Chief John Fruetel said on August 2. “We still consider it a rescue at this point; we don’t really know we’re going to do our best to locate everyone that’s unaccounted for.”
Family members initially said 81-year-old John Carlson, a school janitor, was the person still missing, reported KTSP. However, he has now also been found dead. As with Berg, he was remembered as a positive and well-liked fixture at the school. There is a GoFundMe site established to help both victims’ families.
“The victims have blunt force injuries, including fractures, broken bones and head injuries,” CBS Local reported. No children were injured in the explosion.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Berg Was Engaged to Be Married in October
Berg had her entire life ahead of her, including a wedding in the fall. “She was supposed to have been married in October,” CBS Local reported.
Berg’s fiancee, Mark Burrington, told CBS that he had been informed of her death. Horrifically, the fire chief said a body, now named as that of Berg, “was pulled from the rubble,” The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Burrington’s profile picture on Facebook is of him with Ruth. Friends said on Facebook that Berg also left behind a daughter, Brittany.
Friends began posting tributes to Berg’s Facebook page.
“I am at a loss for words! I went down to see what had happened and ran into Jeff, Marks brother, and he said mark was in there trying to find Ruth,” wrote one. “Ruth was a great friend of mine a wonderful human being I will miss her immensely RIP my good friend.”
“Oh Ruth… peace…” wrote another friend.
“Ruth. I know our career paths took us in different directions and I did not get see you as much as I would have liked. I do appreciate our private chats on fb and I’m thankful I got to say ‘I love you’ on Monday night. I cannot believe you are gone. You are so special. The world was better because of you. My tears are flowing…I love you forever,” wrote another.
KVUE-TV reported that rescuers were initially searching for three missing people in the rubble.
There were ongoing fire suppression efforts at the school right after the explosion occurred.
2. Berg Handled Announcements at the School & Was a Local Graduate
Some reporters referred to Berg as a receptionist. One wrote that she handled announcements at the school. “Ashley Mullen, 18, said Ruth Berg, 47, was engaged and helped students with morning announcements. She was longtime ‘friendly face,'” Frederick Melo tweeted.
Minneapolis South High School wrote on Twitter that Berg was a former student. “Deeply saddened to learn that former South High student Ruth Berg died in today’s explosion at Minnehaha Academy,” the school wrote.
The Minnehaha Academy confirmed the explosion was associated with a gas leak and said that emergency responders were at the scene. Early reports said that three people were rescued from a school roof and a severed gas line was to blame.
“Rescues are underway for victims after a building exploded and collapsed at Minnehaha Academy,” reported KVUE early on.
3. Photos & Videos From the Scene Show That the Explosion Demolished Part of the School
Photos showed the devastation in part of the school building. Observers at the scene labeled it “scary” on social media.
Reporters at the scene said that part of the school building had collapsed. Local television stations broadcast live video from the scene:
Those at the scene said the explosion was “massive.”
The Minneapolis Star-Tribute reported that “Eagan-based Master Mechanical Inc. was issued a permit on June 7 for ‘gas piping and hooking up meter’ at the address.”
4. Berg Was Remembered as Someone Who ‘Loved Life’ & Was Outgoing
The brother of Berg’s fiancee told Jennifer Mayerle of CBS Minneapolis that Berg was “friendly, outgoing, loved life.”
Minnesota’s governor, Mark Dayton, released a statement that said the state was providing any and all needed resources in the wake of the tragedy.
“My office is in continuous contact with the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, as emergency personnel respond to this emergency. The State will provide any and all resources necessary to aid first responders in their efforts to ensure the safety of all those impacted by this morning’s explosion. I thank the many firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement officers who rushed to the scene this morning, and who are working still to ensure the safety of our children, adults, friends and neighbors.”
5. Minnehaha Academy Is a Christian School That Was Founded in the 1800s
Minnehaha Academy is a Christian School located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “In 1884, Rev. Erik August Skogsbergh had a vision for education that inspired Minnehaha Academy. He believed in the importance of quality education with Christian faith as its center,” its website reads.