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Small Utah town grappling with loss of 19-year-old in explosion

Posted at 8:50 PM, Sep 23, 2023

UTAH COUNTY — A 19-year-old died in a devastating home explosion in Elk Ridge Thursday night, and the community is grappling with that loss.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office identified him as Eric Ammon Cheney. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, but investigators believe it was an accident.

Tucked away in an Elk Ridge neighborhood, a community is coming together to help a family in need.

“Everyone’s doing okay, but emotions are close to the surface,” said Scott Stratton, a counselor in the LDS bishopric in that neighborhood. “We have a wonderful tight-knit community up here. Everyone really watches out for each other.”

But this loss is a tough one for all of them.

“This family is just wonderful. The young man who passed away is an absolute wonderful young man. We’re at a loss in the community now that he’s gone,” added Stratton.

Since the explosion Friday night, neighbors and fellow church members have been doing their part.

“There’s been help since it happened,” Stratton said. “There was a group that put together kind of a night watch where they were watching over the property all night in shifts. And now all of people are here today, just helping and serving and trying to help grieve with this family.”

White ribbons and bands are tied to trees and poles across the neighborhood to show the family that they are not alone during this tragedy, and that they are supported and loved.

Volunteers cleaned up the area around the home, boarded up the garage, and even helped with the landscaping.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to make the family comfortable and make it so that they can grieve the loss of a loved one," Stratton said.

They are reminding everyone to hold each other a little closer.

“You never know what’s going to happen today, what’s going to happen tomorrow. Treat everybody like you might not see them again," Stratton said.

Those who would like to help the family can donate to a GoFundMe here.