Man using torch killed in explosion at Rieke Grading in Shawnee

SHAWNEE, Kan. - A man died Monday morning in an apparent workplace explosion at a Johnson County, Kan., excavation and tree removal company.

Police and fire crews in Shawnee were called to Rieke Grading , 8200 Hedge Lane Terrace, about 9:30 a.m. when employees heard a loud bang.

Police identified the victim as 23-year-old Nicholas Jerde. Jerde was a Kansas City, Mo., resident. Authorities said he was using an acetylene torch to free a stuck valve on a vacuum truck when the explosion occurred.

Nichols was pronounced dead on the scene. No other injuries were reported.

Investigators were on scene to make sure there was nothing suspicious about the explosion.

Editor's note: We previously identified the victim as Jerde Nichols. We regret the error.

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