ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Fran Walters had a bad feeling something was terribly wrong when she couldn't reach her husband after learning of Sunday's explosion at a Connecticut power plant.
Chris Walters, 48, of Florissant, a St. Louis suburb, was among five people killed when a powerful explosion blew apart large swaths of the nearly completed 620-megawatt Kleen Energy plant in Middletown, Conn.
Walters was the safety supervisor for an electrical contractor, Keystone Construction, on the project, she said Monday. His temporary job was to end in March. He'd picked it up after being laid off another job.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, he earned a master's degree in safety and fire protection from Central Missouri State University. The Walters family moved around the U.S. because of his work and they ended up in Fran's home town of St. Louis where he had been safety manager for construction of Busch Stadium.
"He was the one who made sure everyone was in compliance with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), using their safety equipment, wearing their steel-toed shoes," Walters, 45, said. "If you weren't, he'd write you up, and you'd be offsite until you complied.
"Keystone knew his work ethic, they knew how good he was," she said. "He's tough but you can still talk to him. He'll do his job and save your butt."
The couple, married 17 years, have a 15-year-old daughter, and two sons, aged 13 and 10.
Chris Walters was an Eagle Scout, and worked with their son's Boy Scout troop.
Fran Walters said when she learned of the explosion, she called hospitals, police, the medical examiner, and left messages on her husband's cell phone.
"I knew in my gut that something was wrong," she said. "He would always call me and tell me he's OK, but he never called."
She got the bad news late Sunday, 24 hours after they last spoke.
They ended their call as they always did, she said.
"OK. Talk to you. Love you. Bye."
Fran Walters takes some solace knowing he died doing what he loved, but wonders if her family will lose their home.
They got behind in their mortgage payments when her husband was between jobs, and were threatened with foreclosure.
"I can take it, but please don't do this to my kids," she said. "They just lost their father."
Chris Walters Memorial Fund
c/o US Bank
2100 North Highway 67
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