North Country
12:47 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Trial Monday Over Explosion That Killed Two North Country Men

Jesse Kennett, left, and Donald Kendall died in the explosion at the Black Mag facility in Colebrook. Courtesy of the familes.
Broadcast version

A Vermont man will go on trial Monday in connection with the deaths of two men in an explosion in Colebrook more than three years ago.

Sixty-four year old Craig Sanborn of Maidstone, Vermont is scheduled to appear in Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster.

Sanborn owned the Black Mag factory - which made a gun powder substitute – when it exploded in May 2010, killing two workers and injuring a third.

Now, he is facing two charges of negligent homicide and two charges of manslaughter in the deaths of workers Don Kendall and Jesse Kennett, said John McCormick, the Coos County Attorney.

The indictment asserts Sanborn “negligently engaged in manufacture, production, testing and storage of explosive materials which resulted in explosions and fire.”

Sanborn has denied any wrongdoing. But if convicted, he could go to prison  for 30 years.

A jury will hear the case.

Officials from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration said they were not aware of the plant before the explosion.

After the deaths the agency investigated and concluded there were so many serious, willful safety violations at the plant it fined Sanborn $1.2 million.

But later, amid doubts that Sanborn had the money OSHA settled, dropping the fine in exchange for Sanborn’s promise never to be involved in such manufacturing again.

A review by NHPR of OSHA inspections later found the federal agency rarely conducts inspections in Coos County.