Male victim of explosion dies

Published 8:27 pm Friday, April 29, 2022

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The male victim of the explosion that occurred in a duplex on Cameron Street in Franklin on April 15 passed away Friday, April 29, Franklin City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt confirmed.

Michael Wiggins

Robert Porti, with the Franklin Police Department, also stated Friday evening that department officials had verified with the medical examiner the man’s passing, identifying him as Michael Wiggins.

Porti said he would be unable to provide a cause of Wiggins’ death until the Office of the Medical Examiner had completed its investigation.

In an email sent shortly before midnight on April 15, Jarratt stated that at approximately 10:50 p.m., a call was received to the city of Franklin dispatch center regarding a potential explosion in the 600 block of Campbell Avenue.

Citizens shared reports with loved ones and on social media about their houses shaking from the blast.

The explosion initially left two injured, with one victim being airlifted to Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and the other, Wiggins, being transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Jarratt reported April 16 that both individuals remained in critical condition at that time.

“While the exact cause of the explosion remains undetermined, the preliminary investigation indicates that it was a propane explosion,” Jarratt said April 16. “There does not seem to be a criminal element involved.”

Virginia State Police Sgt. Michelle Anaya confirmed Tuesday morning, May 3, that VSP is leading the investigation into the origin and cause of the explosion/fire, and she shared the following statement: “At this time there is nothing suspicious about the fire, still under investigation.”

Jarratt was asked Tuesday morning about the female victim of the blast and said, “I do not have an update on her condition.”

The Franklin City NAACP initiated fundraising efforts April 18 to provide support for the immediate and long-term needs of the two victims.

Angela Artis, secretary of the Franklin City NAACP, stated that as of May 3, the organization had raised $3,485. 

In light of Wiggins’ passing, she said $1,842.40 will be donated to assist with funeral costs.

Those interested in contributing support to the victims can do so by Cash App $FRANKLINCITYNAACP or by mailing donations to Franklin NAACP #7068, P.O. Box 812, Franklin, VA 23851.