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Criminal, Civil Trials Nearing In Black Mag Explosion Case

Nearly three years after the Black Mag explosion in Colebrook that killed two men, a criminal trial has been scheduled in Coos Superior Court that is expected to be followed by a civil trial in federal court.

As it stands now, a criminal trial by jury for Black Mag owner Craig Sanborn is scheduled for mid-May at Coos Superior Court in Lancaster.

In January 2012, Sanborn, 63, of Maidstone, was indicted on two counts of manslaughter and two counts of negligent homicide for negligently engaging in the manufacture, production, testing and storage of explosive material that resulted in explosions and the fire that killed Donald Kendall and Jesse Kennett.

The case also resulted in two civil lawsuits alleging wrongful death that were filed by the victims' families.

The civil trial is scheduled in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, in Concord, after the criminal trial is completed, federal court representatives said Monday

Sanborn, who is being represented by attorney Mark Sisti for the criminal charges, was the owner of the gunpowder factory Black Mag Industries LLC, a subsidiary of Millennium Designed Muzzleloaders, that operated at 23 Gould St. in Colebrook.

The explosion occurred on the afternoon of May 14, 2010, at the site that manufactured a gunpowder substitute for muzzleloader rifles.

The blast killed Kendall, 56, of Columbia, and Kennett, 49, of Stratford, and injured David Oldham, of Columbia, who was also injured in a flash explosion at the same Black Mag plant several months before, in January 2010.

According to the New Hampshire Fire Marshal's office, there were possible violations of state statute in the handling, manufacturing and storage of gunpowder at the plant, violations of general fire safety and indications the fatal blast might have occurred during the manufacturing process.

In June 2011, Black Mag entered into an agreement with the U.S. Labor Department that resolved more than 50 workplace safety and health violations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with penalties totaling $1.2 million.

The agreement requires Sanborn to surrender his explosives manufacturing license and permanently refrain from employing workers in explosives-related businesses.

The federal lawsuits brought by the families of Kendall and Kennett allege that Sanborn as well as the other co-owners of the building that housed the Black Mag plant failed to take adequate safety precautions and remedial measures in response to the January 2010 flash explosion.

In addition to Millennium Designed Muzzleloaders, the other defendants named in the civil suit are Rex and Karen Jacobsma and Driver Limited Partnership.


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