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Wife identifies her husband as man killed in Walworth County boat explosion

Second victim details injuries, awaits surgeries
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Posted at 11:16 AM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 19:16:37-04

WALWORTH CO. — One man was killed and two were injured in a boat explosion on Friday, and Teresita Perry has identified her husband, Jesse Perry, as the man who died.

Teresita told TMJ4's Ryan Jenkins that her husband was killed on the job while installing a pier on Lauderdale Lake in the Town of LaGrange on April 1.

According to the Walworth County Sheriff's Office, a pontoon-type barge exploded around 12:30 p.m.

Jesse was pronounced dead on the scene. Two other men were working on the barge with Jesse.

Officials have not released the names of the victims. The sheriff's office said all three men worked for a local pier service, but shared few other details.

"What I do know, right now, is that the explosion happened on the front end of the barge. And that's where my husband was located and so I think that's why it struck him harder," said Teresita.

She said her husband was working for Boat House of Lauderdale Lakes.

"I just want to know if this was the company's fault or one of the workers, including my husband. But as of right now I have no answers, and I want answers," she said.

Jesse Perry
Jesse Perry, right

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Jesse Perry

According to a GoFundMe for Jesse's family, Jesse was the sole income provider. He leaves behind two children: Jesse Jr., 6, and Bella, 8, as well as two stepchildren: Hannah, 12, and Ryan, 16.

The GoFundMe has raised more than $19,000 as of Wednesday, with that money going towards funeral expenses and the family as they work through their grief.

"He would do anything for his kids," said Teresita.

A second victim, John Leece, also spoke with TMJ4's Ryan Jenkins. Leece said he was severely injured during the explosion and has been in intensive care since Friday. He suffered 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns, a broken jaw and eye socket and may need to have his ankle reconstructed or possibly amputated. He is expected to undergo additional surgeries in the days ahead.

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John Leece, right
John Leece
John Leece
John Leece
John Leece

His wife Jazzmine set up a GoFundMe campaign to help their family with expenses.

According to the Walworth County Sheriff, a third person was treated and released at the scene of the explosion.

TMJ4 did reach out to the sheriff's office for more information on what led up to the explosion. Officials say additional information is not available as the investigation continues.

In a news release, the sheriff's office said, "the cause of the explosion is under investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office, the Walworth County Medical Examiner’s Office, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration."

Teresita said she was told it could be 6 to 8 weeks before she learns more about the blast that killed her husband.

Visitation for Jesse Perry will be held Monday, April 11 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Saunders & McFarlin Funeral Home, 107 W. Sumner St., Harvard, Illinois. Services will follow at 1:30 p.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. Teresita said the services will be open to the public.

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