Victim of Clinton Twp. vape blast remembered as a ‘joy to be around’ – Macomb


The young man who died after being struck by flying debris in an explosion at a Clinton Township vape supplier is being remembered as an “incredibly dependable and responsible” person.

Turner Lee Salter, 19, of Clinton Township, died early Tuesday in an area hospital from injuries sustained hours earlier. Authorities said he was standing at a car wash on 15 Mile Road when he was he was hit by airborne shrapnel from one of the cannisters that township officials said were illegally stored.

Salter’s family attends Faith Baptist Church in Clinton Township, where Pastor Tim Berlin described him as an “incredibly dependable and responsible” young man who served as a volunteer in the church’s audio/visual department.

“Turner was just a joy to be around,” Berlin said Wednesday.

“He was so kind, always happy, someone who embraced life. He was on our church bowling league and everyone wanted to be on his team because they knew they’d have fun. This is a real loss for our community.”

Police were initially told Salter had been the victim of a gunshot, but quickly learned that he had been struck by a flying cannister associated with the explosion.

A township firefighter, Matt Myers, was injured when a cannister crashed into the windshield of his fire truck. He was transported to an area hospital but later released.

A store named Goo and a distribution company known as Select Distributors which police said are both part of the same company were destroyed in Monday’s fire. (MITCH HOTTS — THE MACOMB DAILY)

Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said he can’t fathom what Salter’s family is going through in coping with their loss. He said it’s fortunate more people weren’t hurt by the flying debris, given the multitude of cannisters involved in the blast.

“We feel horrible about it. The entire community is praying for him and his family,” Cannon said.

Salter is survived by his parents, Keith and Laura Salter; siblings, Emily Matheis Joel and Thomas Salter; and other relatives.

The church is setting up a donation fund on the Faith Baptist Church’s website to help the Salter family with funeral expenses.

The victim’s sister-in-law, Cassie Salter, is a teacher at the Faith Baptist School. Berlin said the school’s staff wants to support her, so other school activities have been cancelled for Friday.

Visitation will be held 6-9 p.m. Thursday and a funeral service is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, both at the church, which is located at the corner of Little Mack Avenue and 15 Mile Road.

Meanwhile, township officials continue to investigate the exact cause of the blast and fire, including which event triggered the other. Firefighters returned to the scene Wednesday morning as some spots began flaring up again.

Officials said the burned-out building on 15 Mile just west of Groesbeck housed two businesses: Goo Smoke Shop, a tobacco store that sold vapes, and Select Distributors, a wholesale outlet that sold gases and supplies for vaping.

According to township officials, the building was not permitted to store explosive materials on-site. Dozens of canisters containing butane, nitrous oxide and lighter fluid, measuring up to 18 inches in size and weighing up to 15 pounds each, were sent airborne during Monday’s fire.

Mary Bednar, director of the township’s Department of Public Services, is working to locate an environmental firm that is qualified to handle cleanup operations, Cannon said. She is also researching the insurance carrier for the company, he said.

Investigators from the Clinton Township Police Department have met with the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office to discuss the probe, according to the supervisor’s office.

Read More: Victim of Clinton Twp. vape blast remembered as a ‘joy to be around’ – Macomb