‘You don’t know what to do’: Family of man critically injured in Durham explosion speaks

North Carolina
Jay Rambeaut Durham Explosion Survivor

The sister-in-law of a man critically injured in last week’s explosion in downtown Durham is speaking out.

Donna Jackson said Jay Rambeaut had just arrived on North Duke Street.

“It was several hours later before we realized he was alive,” Jackson said.

Jackson saw the images on TV. 

“You’re almost gut punched there for a minute. You just, you can’t breathe. You don’t know what to do,” Jackson said.

Investigators said crews installing fiber hit a gas line. Firefighters responded and started evacuating people.

Jackson said Rambeaut is a first responder locator with Dominion Gas. That means he’s called in to turn off the gas when there’s a leak. She said that’s what he was doing last Wednesday morning. 

“Six broken ribs and each is broken in several places. Two fractures to his sternum and some type of debris in his brain,” Jackson said.

She said his body was covered in shrapnel. His right eye, ear, and arm were also hurt.

Jackson said he’s undergone five surgeries and will need several more.

His wife of 25 years, Lisa, and son, Craig, remain at his side. 

Jackson started a GoFundMe page.

“There’s so many times we’ve asked the doctors a question and they say, ‘We don’t know yet. We don’t know yet.’ Which means we don’t know what we’re facing when he wakes up,” Jackson said.

She said Rambeaut is making progress every day. 

UNC Hospitals said three people remain in the hospital, including Rambeaut. Another man remains in critical condition.

The President and owner of PS Splicing LLC, Don Smith, was also injured in the blast and remains in the hospital. Neighbors said his condition was upgraded to stable. 

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