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Father of 3 killed in home explosion in Surprise

Posted at 8:35 AM, May 16, 2016

Surprise police have identified the victim in a deadly home explosion as 38-year-old Derek Baldwin, a father of three. 

Police say he was making an unknown type of fireworks in his garage near Litchfield and Greenway Roads when neighbors heard a loud boom they said felt like an earthquake. 

Police say city ordinance prohibits making fireworks on private property. Only certain fireworks are allowed in the state, and in the city of Surprise, the use of consumer-type fireworks are only allowed on private property around the 4th of July and New Year’s holidays.  

The neighborhood was quiet Monday, but neighbors say they heard the loudest boom you could imagine. 

“I mean, I felt it. It shook my body-- just like, the shockwave came all the way across,” said Grant Morrison, a neighbor who was about a half mile away at the time of the explosion.  

Police and firefighters rushed over and found Baldwin lying in his driveway. But the first on scene were neighbors who live steps away.

“The neighbor across the street came over helped me roll him over, and since I’m a paramedic, I started work on him until crews got there," said Zachary Moore, a neighbor. 

“I, with him, continued CPR to no avail. It was just a horrific, horrific scene,” said Jonathan Lane, a neighbor who lives across the street. 

Both neighbors work in the medical field and say it’s possibly the worst trauma they ever saw. 

Moore, a paramedic who was off-duty, said he was in shock to know the person he was working on. 

"That was definitely a completely different challenge," Moore said. 

Neighbors are remembering Baldwin as a quiet and nice man who would often help with their pools. 

“[He was] very nice, very helpful. Every time we went out to vacation or anywhere, he always would look out after our house," Moore said. 

As neighbors try to move past what they witnessed, it's a tragic warning for all. 

“Watch out what’s going on next door. Pay attention to your neighbors. You never know what’s going to happen, obviously," Morrison said.