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Updated: 12:37 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 | Posted: 1:17 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, 2013
KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C. —
A plant owner was killed in an explosion inside a Kings Mountain Business.Fire officials said the 69-year-old man was working on a diesel fuel tank when it exploded. Neighbors and family said he owned the shop for more than 30 years.Eyewitness News was told that there is another employee who works at the business, but he wasn't there when the explosion happened.There were a few other people around the shop, but they were not injured.Gerald Sheppard, 69, had been in business since the '70s. Sheppard has worked at his shop for more than 35 years and is well-known in the community."He was fine, outstanding fella. You couldn't ask for a better guy than what he was," said neighbor and friend Buddy Collins. The fire marshal said that Sheppard was grinding a diesel tank when it exploded, killing him and causing flames and smoke to fill his welding shop.His daughters are shocked by the accident and said that he was always very careful with his work. "I never thought that would happen. He was always an avid fisherman, so we worried about him when he went out on the lake fishing, but this totally shocked me," said Sandy Surber. Surber lives just behind the shop but was at work when the explosion happened.Her neighbor witnessed the terrible flames. "I heard the big bang, and I come to the door and looked out, and the smoke was boiling out of the welding shop," said Collins. Sheppard's daughters rushed to the shop as soon as they heard about the accident."I found out when I got here," said White. White described her father as a great man.
"Dad, he was a great father. A great grandfather. We knew he was there if we needed anything. He was just a phone call away," said White. White's sister said she had just talked to him right before leaving for work. They said "I love you" to each other.Investigators have ruled the explosion accidental.
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