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Man Loses Leg To Flying Shrapnel In Power Plant Implosion

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Several people were injured by shrapnel that went flying into a crowd of people watching the implosion of a power plant this morning. One 43-year-old man lost a leg to shrapnel injuries, and authorities said that he could lose his other leg as well.

The implosion of an old PG&E power plant was a big draw in Bakersfield, a city in the rural Central Valley about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. It was scheduled for 6 a.m. today, and it drew hundreds of people—some even camped out overnight in order to get a good spot to watch the event, according to the Bakersfield Californian.

There were a few designated areas for media and other onlookers to watch the implosion of a power plant that has been out of commission since the 1980s. The shrapnel didn't hit any of these areas, but it went flying toward a crowd of people that had gathered in a Lowe's parking lot several hundred yards away. Witnesses told The Californian that initially the crowd at the Lowe's cheered the implosion but those cheers quickly turned to screams and cries for a medic.

Fred Garten, 49, was grazed by a 4x6 piece of metal, and his shorts and socks ended up splattered with blood. He told The Californian he doesn't blame PG&E or anyone else: "I took the risk. It is what it is, right or wrong. I just feel bad for the other guy. They took him away on a gurney, and I’m walking."

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That man was airlifted to Fresno, a city about 2 hours north, to be treated, police told CNN. At least two other adults were treated for injuries from the shrapnel. A Bakersfield Police cruiser and two other cars sustained some damage as well.

PG&E issued a statement:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were injured during the demolition. Safety of the public and employees is our first priority at all times, and we are deeply saddened that at least one individual suffered serious injuries. “We will work closely with all investigating agencies and the third-party contractors who managed and carried out the demolition as they work to identify the cause of this accident."

PG&E hired a contractor Demtech Inc., which used 170 pounds of explosives to take the plant down. It told KGET that it made no accommodations to help people watch the implosion.Because the implosion was such an event, there are several videos of it on YouTube, and you can see some of the damaging shrapnel flying.

This video shows the implosion up close:

And here is a video from another angle:

Here's the Bakersfield Californian news video: