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June 22 – Police ID victim of Columbia City explosion as Kendallville man – Member of the Black Pistons

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By Steve Garbacz

One month after an explosion in Columbia City that killed a man, Indiana State Police have released their findings on what happened as well as an official identification of the victim.

Police identified the man who was found in the remains of the building after it burned as Zachery Sparkman, 34. The Indiana State Police release issued June 22 states Sparkman was of LaOtto, but an obituary submitted by his family to KPC Media Group in May states he was from Kendallville.

Authorities had not previously identified the victim while the Whitley County coroner continued its investigation.

Police had said about a week after explosion when Sparkman’s family was preparing services for him that it had not received a confirmation from the coroner and therefore could not officially identify the victim at that time.

Due to the severity of the fire, the coroner’s office had to send out DNA testing to the Indiana State Police Fort Wayne Regional Laboratory to confirm the identity of the victim, which accounted for the delay in the identification.

The manner and cause of death have not yet been officially released. Information that will come from the official autopsy report is pending with the Northeast Indiana Forensic Center in Fort Wayne.

After the month long investigation, officials have concluded that the explosion was likely sparked by an unintentional ignition of a natural gas source.

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