Families File Suit Against Casino Over Deadly Explosion

WORLEY, ID. – The families of two Coeur d’Alene Casino employees killed in a fireworks explosion two years ago have filed a lawsuit against the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and more than a dozen companies.

Richard Stokes and Donald Hanson were working in a storage container near the casino when it exploded two years ago. Stokes is never far from his sisters hearts. Both Sandy Martin and Patty Wiedmer wear pendants filled with his ashes.

Now they’re looking for the casino and a wide variety of companies – from a company that makes propane tanks to the company that built the storage container to the company that sold the Coeur d’Alene Casino the fireworks – to take responsibility for their brother’s death.

“We’re looking at accountability, first of all of course we lost two good people in this. We’re also looking to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Sandy Martin said

Following the deadly explosion investigators found three propane tanks among 153 firework shells left over from the previous year inside the storage container.

“Propane being stored in a storage container when it says right on it, and everyone knows that it should be in a cage, open air cage that right there, you know I mean who does that? Nobody does that, homeowners don’t do that,” Sandy Martin said.

While it’s remains unclear what sparked the blaze, investigators say propane gas was the first to ignite in the fire.

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe says its not surprised by the lawsuit brought by Stokes’ and Hanson’s  families

“The whole thing about this suit is that the Tribe is really committed to resolving it and the Tribe has made some changes as far as what happened at the casino as far as what happened with propane storage, that’s no longer stored here,” Marc Stewart with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe said.

In the lawsuit the plaintiffs claim that Richard Stokes had asked the casino to purchase a metal cage to store the propane tanks outside but the casino denied that request.

The casino can’t comment on that accusation but says they are very sympathetic to the families loss and continue to realize how tragic this really was.