Imperial Sugar dedicates memorial to blast victims
PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - It's hard to believe the sugar refinery explosion in Port Wentworth happened one year ago tomorrow. That explosion killed 14 people and injured 40 others.
Memories are still fresh from that tragic night. It's been a long year for families and friends of those victims. Today, a new memorial has been dedicated to those victims and their families.
Legacy Park is right in the front of the plant and the central focus of the park is to remember the victims.
Fourteen black granite stones with the name of each victim in gold lettering and eight benches signifying those who were killed on February 7, 2008 sit in the park.
If you look down at the monument, there is an impression of a cross and it's made out of the bricks from the old packaging plant.
There will also be a statue of hands reaching up to the sky releasing 14 doves.
In the middle, there is a plaque with an inscription that reads, "On the evening of February 7, 2008 an explosion and fire at the Savannah Sugar Refinery claimed the lives of 14 associates and injured dozens more. Legacy Park is dedicated to the sweet loving memory of the fallen."
Tomorrow, hundreds will be there to remember that night including the families who have through so much this year.
It's been an emotional, difficult and sad year for the Johnson family. Never did they think they'd spend so much time at the grave site of Earl Johnson Sr. Pictures make the site, showing much happier times.
Latacia Johnson Bynes is Earl Johnson's daughter. "My dad has been in my life since September 9, 1971 until February 7, 2008," said Latacia.
Earl Johnson was on the second floor of the refinery packaging department when it exploded.
Latacia says it's been a year of misery. "This year it has been an uproar. It hasn't been a good insight on my family at all, we have no closure," said Latacia. "The feelings are still fresh. It's like open wounds."
Tomorrow, she and other families will gather at Legacy Park to reflect and remember.
"It's remembering and it's like doing it all over again and I know it's for a good cause," said Latacia.
She says just coming out to this site is going to be tough. "I don't even go that route, I have been out there recently and it took a lot out of me to go out there," said Latacia.
But she knows it's important to honor her father and all the others who lost their lives that night.
"I think throughout they kept the fallen in mind and that's great, wonderful. Kept them in mind in spite of it all," said Latacia.
The memorial service is at Legacy Park which is on the plant's property in Port Wentworth. It starts at 11am on Saturday.
If you can't make, you can watch the entire memorial service live on wtoc.com.