ROANOKE — Four search warrants filed in Roanoke County reveal branches of the investigation into the explosion and fire that recently destroyed a Buena Vista gas station, killing four people and injuring three others.
State police are seeking more information about a gasoline order delivered to the South River Market in Rockbridge County early on May 10, not long before the explosion.
Delivery was made at approximately 8:45 a.m. and the explosion happened at 9:23 a.m., the documents said.
The first search warrant, dated May 11, shows that investigators sought to examine business records between the market and its fuel distributor, including invoices, schedules and receipts.
A second search warrant from that same day requested to examine a “2017 Mack Tractor-Truck” located at the distributor’s headquarters, as well as “[a]ny equipment and/or tool used in the process of gasoline/fuel delivery to ensure proper and safe delivery.”
Neither of those warrants included a return or an inventory, so it remains unclear what, if anything, was taken by investigators.
A search warrant filed May 28 requested, and got, cellphone records for the truck driver from the day of the explosion. It said he used his phone before and after the delivery and it determined that those records “will aid agents in establishing exact route to and from the delivery site and will assist in establishing a time line of events.”
The fourth warrant came June 4 and asked for any company training records and certifications for the driver, specifically seeking any information “related to the delivery of gasoline, the driver’s responsibilities as result of any spill, leak or overflow of hazardous materials during the delivery of gasoline on the day of the explosion.”
“In addition, the records will aid in determining if the driver had received the necessary training to conduct his job safely and … if he had been trained in proper safety protocol should an incident/accident occur during a fuel drop.”
The inventory on that warrant reported that it had not been served.
Although the driver is named in two warrants, he has not been charged with anything.
Representatives for the fuel distributor did not return calls for comment on Friday. A state police spokesman also did not respond to a request for more information.
The South River Market sold gas, food, and hunting and fishing supplies. It sat at the intersection of South River and Old Buena Vista roads and was run for decades by its owner, Roger Lee Roberts.
After the blast, the store was totally consumed by flames when crews arrived. There were no fire hydrants in the rural community, so firefighters drew water from the nearby ChalPauk Mine Run.
The disaster claimed lives across three generations: Roberts, 69, was killed, as was his son, Kevin Roberts, 44, and his granddaughter, Samantha Gail Lewis, 27.
Paul Ruley, 54, a regular customer who was present that day, also died.