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Pasquotank Navy veteran killed in home explosion

Pasquotank Sheriff Randy Cartwright said the victim was 70-year-old T.C. Oneyear, a U.S. Navy veteran who was well-known in the community.

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WVEC) -- A U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam war was killed Saturday morning in what appears to be a home cooking accident.

Pasquotank County Sheriff Randy Cartwright said the accident happened in the 100 block of Quaker Drive around 8:40 Saturday morning.

According to Cartwright, food was cooking in 70-year-old T.C. Oneyear's detached garage the night before, ahead of a family gathering that was set to take place on Saturday.

The next morning, Oneyear went to check on the food. The sheriff said he was apparently carrying a candle into the garage and when he opened a door, there was a large explosion that blew the doors -- including the main garage door -- off the building.

Oneyear was struck by the door he opened and knocked back by the force of the explosion, subsequently striking his head on the ground.

The fire completely destroyed the detached garage and melted some siding on the back of the house. The initial explosion also blew out the windows on the back of the house.

Cartwright said that their initial assessment, pending the fire investigator's report, is that there was a buildup of gas in the garage which was ignited by Oneyear's candle.

Oneyear died at the scene. An autopsy will be conducted to determine if he died from the actual explosion, the impact from his head hitting the ground, or the resulting fire.

His wife was home at the time of the explosion and was unhurt. The sheriff said that family members began arriving for the originally planned gathering as firefighters continued to battle the blaze.

No other injuries were reported.

State Commander of VFW Greg Stafford says this leaves a hole in everyone.

“T.C. again was bigger than life.T.C. was a very valuable member, valuable person in the community, every veterans event he was there out in front,” said Stafford. Now his friends at VFW, like Billy Bown are remembering him.

“He looked after all veterans whether you’re army, navy, marines, or air force," said Brown. Oneyear was an advocate for veterans health. He talked to us in 2010 about the VA Medical Clinic.

"We've been waiting for such a long time, you would not believe it. It's going to be absolutely awesome," said Oneyear.

Brown says Oneyear is the kind of guy you can’t replace.

“He was my sea dad, he called me his son, he really did, he called me his son, and we served together on the Iowa," said Brown.

According to the Daily Advance, Oneyear served in the Navy from 1962 to 1992, and served during Vietnam, including as part of Operation Frequent Wind in 1975, which was the U.S. military evacuation of Americans and South Vietnamese. He retired with the rank of Master Chief Boatswain's Mate.

13News Now met Oneyear back in 2010, when a new veteran medical center was announced for Elizabeth City.

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