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Friends and neighbors remember man killed in Lebanon, Mo. home explosion

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 11:29 PM CST
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LEBANON, Mo. (KY3) - A whole community is still shaken after a deadly explosion rattled an entire neighborhood on Thursday.

Joe Cross, Sr., 76, died on Friday after suffering multiple injuries that followed an explosion at his home on Cedar Crest Drive in Lebanon.

“I couldn’t believe it. I mean it was just unbelievable,” said Cross’s neighbor and friend Steve Light. “Oh yeah, it still bothers me.”

Light said he is still torn up from the incident.

“I mean I was used to looking out the window and coming out the door seeing Joe sitting at the window,” he said. “I don’t see that no more.”

Now all Light and others see across the way are the flowers and crosses he placed out there, along with the debris that used to be Joe Cross’s home a week ago.

Close family friends in Seattle, where Cross used to live, said the last few days have been filled with unease and anxiety on top of the grief.

“I know we’re just trying to find out a lot of answers,” family friend Roger Norman said. “You know, we just have a lot of questions and we don’t know who has answers. It’s just hard.”

Investigators with the state Fire Marshal said the explosion was caused by a rusted hole in the gas line underneath the house. They still do not know what caused the ignition though.

Steve Light said he got to know Cross very well while he lived in his neighborhood.

“We was buddies,” he said. “I mean I was over there two to three times a week. As a matter of fact, I was over there Wednesday night before it blowed up on Thursday.”

After the blast, Cross was flown to a hospital in Springfield. He died on Friday after sustaining multiple injuries across his body, friends said.

The news has been equally as difficult for friends living back in Washington.

”He was always like a father to us,” Norman said. “My sisters and I were very close to Joe. We always saw him as a stepfather because he was always there for my mom and us kids. He pretty much considered himself like a father to us even though he didn’t have to cause he has sons older than us. But he pretty much took the chance to get to know us and stuck to our sides through everything. ”

Friends described the Navy veteran and retired police officer as a loving and caring person. For now, neighbors and close friends said all they can do is hang on to the cherished memories they still have.

”You couldn’t ask for a better person,” Light said. “He was real nice. Helpful if you needed help, and he was able to help you. Whatever. He was a good person.”

Investigators said it could take some time before they determine what ignited the leak. They said they do not believe criminal activity was involved.

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