Family identifies couple killed in NC home explosion

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FALLSTON, N.C. (WBTV) – A husband and wife were killed in an explosion at their Cleveland County home Sunday night.

Cleveland County officials say a truck crashed into a propane tank at the couple’s home off of East Stagecoach Trail near the city of Fallston. The couple, identified by family as 74-year-old Johnie (J.B.) Newton and 76-year-old Naomi Newton, were inside at the time of the explosion.

The Newtons were able to escape, but later died from injuries sustained in the explosion, officials and family members say. The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night.

State officials say a 1997 GMC pick-up truck, driven by 24-year-old Thomas Pruitt, crossed the center line and hit the shoulder of the roadway and crashed into the home, causing the propane gas tank to rupture and explode.

After the initial impact, additional explosions then occurred, state officials said.

A witness says the explosion sounded like an earthquake and looked like a ball of fire. Pieces of the home were seen scattered hundreds of feet away and in the trees following the explosion.

Cleveland County officials say grass caught on fire as well as a roof to a nearby home.

Pruitt went to the hospital, but it isn’t clear what kinds of injuries he sustained.

Neighbors say this is not the first accident in the curve area and they have asked for something to be done in the past, but nothing was.

J.B. Newton would have turned 75 years old Thursday, family members say.

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