Explosion at home leaves one dead, two injured
PATTON – Police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding an explosion early Tuesday morning that left one man dead and two others hospitalized.
Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski confirmed Brad Kollar, 40, of Hastings committed suicide by blowing himself up inside of a truck shortly after 9 a.m. outside the home at 882 Kepshire Road, Patton.
Kwiatkowski said the death is being ruled a suicide resulting from blunt force trauma.
Police said two other victims were caught in the explosion, including William M. Shaner, who was listed in county records as the property’s homeowner.
The home was leveled to its foundation in the blast. Debris was scattered across both sides of Kepshire Road and was strewn about by heavy winds as investigators combed through the scene.
Altoona Regional Health System officials confirmed a William Shaner, 44, was admitted to the hospital Tuesday but later was flown to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Kwiatkowski said Tuesday night as far as he knew, Shaner remains in critical condition.
Trooper John Matchik, spokesman for the Ebensburg barracks, said a male teenager also was inside the house with Shaner at the time of the explosion but did not release his name or his condition.
“I believe both of those victims were transported by ground EMS units to a local medical facility for treatment of the injuries they sustained,” Matchik said. “We are treating this as a criminal investigation at this point.”
Authorities have not yet released a motive behind the attempted murder.
But Kollar was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in Cambria County court after pleading guilty to controlled substance and chop shop charges.
On March 6, 2012, state police arrested Kollar and his father, John Andrew Kollar, on their family property in Hastings. Police recovered numerous stolen vehicles in addition to explosives and chemicals, identified as precursors to a possible meth lab, on the family’s property.
The chop shop charge is a felony punishable by more than 10 years in prison, a fine up to $100,000 or both. Possession of liquid ammonia is a misdemeanor charge.
Brad Kollar’s attorney, Art McQuillan of Johnstown, said Tuesday he did not know any details about the incident in Patton or his client’s alleged involvement.
“I have no comment,” McQuillan said.
John Andrew Kollar could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Sources said Brad Kollar blamed Shaner for many of the charges brought against him last year.
Two of Shaner’s younger children reportedly had already gone to school and were safe.
A message left with the Cambria Heights School District was not returned.
State police experts from the Hazardous Device and Explosives Section and investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene combing through the wreckage of the home.
When reached by phone Tuesday, William Shaner of Auburndale, Fla., said he had received a call about an incident at his son’s home.
“I don’t know what’s going on yet myself,” he said. “I don’t have any idea.”
Shaner said he and his wife were making preparations to fly to Pennsylvania. He could not be reached for further comment Tuesday evening.
Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan and Kwiatkowski, along with state police and local fire and EMS crews, were at the scene Tuesday.
Police are in the process of speaking with the two hospitalized individuals, Matchik said.
“We are following up with information and conducting things very, very methodically,” he said. “We want to make sure we don’t overlook anything.”
Cambria 911 officials initially said emergency crews were dispatched to the scene of a meth lab explosion.
“It would be too much of a rush to judgment to speculate on anything,” Matchik said. “I know that we had heard statements before about possible ties to methamphetamine and things like that, and that would be premature to indicate anything like that at this time, until we have our investigators that are able to thoroughly comb through what we found.”
Neighbors were shaken.
“I just think it’s scary, this close to home,” said Luke J. Lansberry, whose house on Route 36 faces the destroyed building.
“There’s a bunch of kids that live around here,” said Randy Slovikosky, whose nearby landscaping business was used by police and EMS personnel as a staging area.
Investigators could take days to go through the debris for more clues, Matchik said.
A press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at the Ebensburg barracks.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535. Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich and The Associated Press contributed to this story.