Two school workers were tragically killed when a gas leak caused an explosion at Minnehaha Academy in Massachusetts. One of those left dead was sadly a 47-year-old woman about to get married.
Tragedy befell Minnehaha Academy, a Christian school in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 2, when a gas leak on campus caused an explosion that collapsed a building. Two faculty members were tragically killed in the explosion: Ruth Berg, a 47-year-old receptionist, and John F. Carlson, an 82-year-old janitor. Nine others were injured in the blast, one critically, including administrative staff and another janitor. The warning of a gas leak came just moments before the explosion, when a school counselor screamed at everyone in the building to “get out!” Thankfully, only a few students were on campus, as the school year doesn’t start until the end of August.
Ruth was engaged and was going to get married in October, her fiancé, Mark Burrington, told CBS Minnesota. The cheerful receptionist was beloved by students and faculty alike at Minnehaha. Ruth worked as a receptionist at the Christian school for 17 years. “She welcomed everyone with a smile and was always willing to go the extra mile to help our students, families, and staff,” school officials told CBS. A heartbreaking post from Minnehaha’s Facebook page was flooded with touching comments about Ruth and her impact on their community.
“I was fortunate to work with Ruth in the business office for a year. She was the sweetest person, a true friend and she had a great sense of humor. My thoughts go out to her friends and family who she loved so much,” Minnehaha administrator Karen Stuhlfeier wrote. “I was Ruth’s boyfriend from 2009-2014 and we remained very close. She was a terrific, loving and wonderful soul who had a quick sense of humor and an infectious laugh! She also loved people, the lively students and their endless stunts, and her pet kitties very deeply. She loved being part of Minnehaha Academy. I know others will miss her as I do,” her ex, Eric Hunden wrote.
Ruth and John’s bodies were discovered in the rubble of the collapsed building, Ruth at 2:00pm local time, and John around dusk. John was a beloved figure at Minnehaha. The elderly janitor, an alum of Minnehaha Academy, returned to work in 2003, and quickly became a favorite on campus with students and teachers. As of the morning of Thursday, August 3, assistant boys soccer coach Bryan Duffey remained in critical condition, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Two others were still hospitalized, but doing well. They other four had been treated and released.
The Minnehaha community held a candlelight vigil the night of the explosion to honor the dead and injured. “Tonight is an example of the kind of caring community we are,” Minnehaha Academy President Donna M. Harris, who was injured in the blast, told the people gathered. “We’re going to get through it. We trust God. He is going to do phenomenal work.”
HollywoodLifers, our thoughts are with the Minnehaha community during this difficult time.