North Country
9:44 am
Tue March 13, 2012

Trial Set For Man Accused In Colebrook Explosion That Killed Two

A trial date has been set for Craig Sanborn, the man accused of negligent homicide and manslaughter in the deaths of two North Country men who worked at his Black Mag factory in Colebrook when it exploded almost two years ago.

Jury selection is set to begin on January 11, 2013 in Superior Court in Lancaster for the trial of Sanborn, 62, of Maidstone, Vermont.

Earlier this year Sanborn – whose company operated the facility - was indicted in the deaths of Jesse Kennett and Donald Kendall.

The indictment – sought by Coos County Attorney Robert Mekeel - asserts that Sanborn “negligently engaged in the manufacture, production, testing and storage of explosive materials” at the Colebrook facility.

Kennett and Kendall died in the May 14, 2010 explosion that also seriously injured a third man.

According to court records Sanborn has entered a plea of not guilty.

As a 2011 NHPR story noted questions remain about how Black Mag could have operated without any state, local or federal agency detecting hazards at the plant.

Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have said they were not aware of the plant before the explosion that brought rescue personnel from throughout the region.

OSHA investigated and said it appeared there were so many serious safety violations that a fine of $1.2 million was merited.

Ultimately Sanborn paid no fine.

Instead, he settled with OSHA by promising never again to be involved in such manufacturing.

There was some doubt that Sanborn’s company had the money and OSHA officials said his promise was a good deal because it would protect workers in the future.

Later an NHPR check of OSHA records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed the safety agency rarely visits Coos County. Agency officials said that they are limited by a staff shortage.

suit against Sanborn by the families of the dead men is pending in U.S. District Court in Concord.