Akil Drake, a Pittsburgh native, tragically dies in Youngstown building explosion

The victim who tragically lost their life in the devastating explosion that shook downtown Youngstown, Ohio on Tuesday afternoon has now been identified.

The Mahoning County Coroner’s Office has identified the individual as Akil Drake, a 27-year-old Pittsburgh native.

The exploded building is home to a Chase Bank, where Drake worked as an employee at the time of the explosion.

Chase Bank shared the following statement with KDKA-TV:

“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 completed his studies at Penn Hills High School in 2015. During his time there, he actively participated in football, which ultimately paved the way for his involvement with the Youngstown State football team during his college years. Those who know him well recall his unwavering dedication and relentless efforts.

John Peterman, Drake’s former football coach at Penn Hills, was devastated by the news. He described Drake as the epitome of the kind of player every coach dreams of having on their team.

Peterman praised his willingness to always do what was asked of him, highlighting it as a great attribute.

During his time at Youngstown State, Drake honed his skills in shooting, editing, and producing football film study videos under the guidance of Mark Preto. In 2019, he completed his studies and earned a degree in finance.

Preto expressed admiration for his work ethic and described him as someone worth supporting and cheering on in life.

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Drake’s smile continues to be cherished and remembered by those who were close to him.

According to Peterman, no matter the setting – be it football practice, school, or the hallways – he was always in a cheerful and positive mood.

Drake worked hard to excel in school and constantly challenged himself to progress further. Preto believed that Drake was on the right track in life. The sudden loss of Drake has left Preto at a loss for words, unsure of how to console his family and loved ones.

Preto acknowledged that it was difficult to find the right words to convey the depth of their emotions. While saying “thoughts and prayers” was a commonly used phrase, Preto felt that it had become somewhat cliché.

The Penn Hills School District expressed its sincere condolences to Akil’s family and all those affected by the tragic explosion. The district acknowledged that Akil’s absence will be deeply felt by everyone.

Youngstown State expressed their condolences to Akil’s family and loved ones, acknowledging the difficult time they are going through. They also extended their heartfelt sympathies to the injured individuals and their families, as well as to everyone impacted by this incident.

Seven hurt in explosion, some remain hospitalized

The explosion at the Realty Building on East Federal Street around 3 p.m. Tuesday resulted in the tragic death of 27-year-old Drake. Additionally, seven individuals sustained injuries in the incident, which rocked both the bank and apartment building.

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Seven individuals were transported to the hospital, with one of them requiring the use of a ventilator, according to Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley. Mayor of Youngstown further clarified that out of the seven, six were employees of the bank.

According to our CBS affiliate, WBKN, one person is currently in critical condition, while three individuals have been treated and released. Additionally, three others are still receiving care at the hospital.

Cause of explosion remains unknown

As a precautionary measure, gas has been turned off on the entire block while investigations continue to determine the cause of the explosion that resulted in the destruction of the first floor of the 13-story building.

Eyewitnesses have described the incident as resembling a miniature earthquake, although the exact cause remains unknown.

Damia Rizwan, a resident living just a block away from the explosion site, described the incident as a loud bang that shook her building.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced on Wednesday that it is dispatching investigators specializing in pipeline and hazardous materials to the scene. They made this announcement in a post on the social media platform X.

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