NAPOLEON — The daughter of a Napoleon man killed last year in an explosion at a local auto salvage yard has filed a civil suit against the company for wrongful death.

Jeffrey Keehn, 41, was using a torch to remove a catalytic converter from a pickup truck at Hogrefe Auto Parts, 690 E. Riverview Ave., in November 2017 when gasoline vapors ignited, causing the explosion that claimed Keehn’s life.

Keehn, an independent contractor, attempted to crawl out from under the vehicle, but only made it 10-12 feet before collapsing on the side of a hill and succumbing to thermal body burns and smoke and soot inhalation.

The blaze engulfed three other vehicles and a skid loader, and burned a line of pine trees separating the junkyard from County Road 424.

The lawsuit, filed last week in Henry County Common Pleas Court by Keehn’s daughter, Emily Belcher, seeks compensatory and punitive damages against defendants Hogrefe Auto Parts LLC, owner Gary Hogrefe and manager Donald Reynolds.

The suit alleges that Hogrefe Auto Parts “owed a duty to Jeffrey A. Keehn to exercise ordinary care for (his) safety, to maintain its business premises in a reasonably safe condition, to prevent explosions and fires that could cause injury or death, and to warn Mr. Keehn of latent or hidden dangers on the business premises such as those posed by the remaining fuel in the pickup’s fuel tank.”

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