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Public safety changes 7 years after the Richmond Hill Explosion

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The Night the Sky Caught Fire: The untold stories of the Richmond Hill Explosion
Posted at 5:30 AM, Nov 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-08 07:31:40-05

INDIANAPOLIS — This weekend marks seven years since the south side Indianapolis explosion.

Doug Aldridge cuts the grass on the property once belonging to Dion and Jennifer Longworth. The Longworths were the only two people killed in the massive explosion in Richmond Hill subdivision on Nov. 10, 2012.

READ | The Night the Sky Caught Fire: The untold stories of the Richmond Hill Explosion |

Their home among 35 others that were torn down.

The response from public safety was enormous.

"We can probably nit-pick, and pick out certain things (that) could have been done better — it's a shame we couldn't save the lives of our neighbors who perished," Aldridge told RTV6.

Following the blast, the city issued what they called an 'After Actions Review.'

The report did not sit on a shelf collecting dust.

Call 6 Investigates learned that recommendations made seven years ago have led to changes benefiting taxpayers. Those changes include the fire department conducting training exercises with Metro Police, implementing the federal method of marking homes searched, and using wrist bands with bar codes to keep track of people — whether injured or deceased.

"We'll be able, eventually, to know where all of our patients went to and status of those patients," Metro Police told Call 6.

Metro Police have implemented better methods of tracking officers and knowing technology supporting phones and computers can be crippled during a disaster, Homeland Security still values and maintains ham radio operators.

"It's old school, but it works," Metro Police said. "We've come out stronger and better."

The Richmond Hill neighborhood was built with only one entrance. That was a problem on the night of the explosion, with fire trucks and police racing in and homeowners rushing out.

Since the explosion, a city ordinance passed in 2016 requires any development with more than 30 units must have two entrances.

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A couple's greed to collect $300,000 was the motivation that led to the fatal disaster. Two of Indiana's biggest criminal trials in decades came out of the Richmond Hill explosion.

Mark Leonard was convicted to life in prison without parole, and later died in prison. Leonard's half-brother, Bob Leonard, is set to never leave state prison. Monserrate Shirley made a deal with the state and was sentenced to 50 years in prison. The earliest Shirley could be out is Jun. 19, 2037.

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