YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN)- East Palestine families who live near the train derailment site shared their evacuation stories in the latest class action lawsuit.
The lawsuits were filed in the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio on Thursday.
According to court records, Jessica Davis and Gerald Heaton are an engaged couple who live together with their children in the one mile radius from the train derailment.
At around 9 or 10 p.m. on February 3, Jessica received an alert on her phone that she needed to evacuate her house immediately. After seeing the blaze, Jessica Davis and Gerald Heaton woke up their children and they drove several miles away to get away from the fire. Their children are 6 and 7 years old.
Reports said that they parked the car for several hours to get some rest.
Records said that around 4 a.m. on February 4 the family returned home because they thought it was safe to do so. After hearing loud explosions, Jessica was told about the train derailment by a family member. At the time, reports said that the family was unaware of possible hazardous chemicals.
After watching a press conference on Sunday stating the mandatory evacuation for East Palestine residents, the family moved to the residence of a friend in Leetonia.
On Monday, February 6 the family was notified that roads in East Palestine were going to be blocked, so they picked up their dogs at their home. The families then stayed at several hotels between February 6-February 10.
When the family returned on February 10, records said that their house smelled like chemicals similar to nail polish. Reports said that one of the children had an emergency asthma attack. On February 13, a pediatrician confirmed that the children tested negative for strep, but that their sore throats, headaches and eye irritation could have been caused by the train derailment
Records say that the children also suffered psychological trauma as a result of the incident. The family continues to suffer with physical symptoms, economic loss and emotional distress as a result of the derailment.
There were two other families included in the lawsuit.
Records indicate that Christopher Ammon, Anita Ammon and Chase Ammon live together approximately 1-2 miles outside of the 1-mile Train Derailment evacuation zone. Even though they were outside of the evacuation zone and not required to leave, they fled due to the derailed tank being ignited in the area.
Reports said that the family is feet away from a creek that is filled entirely with dead fish. The family is using bottled water to drink and cook.
The other family lives 1.4 miles from the derailment in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Todd Hart and his wife Heidi were fearful of propane tanks exploding because of the derailment, so they along with their two young children went to Heidi’s mother’s home.
After learning that their house was on the border of the evacuation site, the family decided to evacuate their home and found shelter at the Fairfield Suites in Monaca, Pennsylvania from Sunday, February 5, 2023, until Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
The family returned home on February 7 after keeping up with news coverage.
Reports said that the family remains anxious as a result of the train derailment and is fearful of water contamination, air quality and their home’s value.
Three additional lawsuits were also filed this week in U.S. Court.
Ayisa Canterbury of Columbiana County and Lisa Sodergen of Pennsylvania filed their own suit seeking damages. They are represented by Covington, Ky., attorney Jesse Shore.
Another suit was filed by East Palestine residents Jessica Paris, Gerald Heaton and two minor children, Anthony and Chase Ammon and Todd Hart. Columbus-based attorney Andrew S. Baker is representing them.
Krtistin Battaglia and Margo Zuch-Battaglia, both from East Palestine, filed suit on behalf of themselves and their minor children as well as Dawn Baughman, also of East Palestine. They are represented by a law firm in Sandusky.
All of the class action cases have been assigned to U.S. Judge Benita Y. Pearson. Hearing dates have yet to be set.