NEWARK (CN) – A piece of an errant Army artillery shell blasted through the roof of a family’s home and killed its pet cat as it slept on the daughter’s bed, the family claims in Federal Court.
The Angle family – two adults and three children – live in a residential neighborhood half a mile from one border of the Picatinny Arsenal, the headquarters of the Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC). The father, Frederick Angle, has lived in the house for 26 years.
The mother, Cheryl, was eating lunch in the kitchen with her son Brandon at 2 p.m. on April 11, 2008, the very moment that ARDEC was testing an explosive artillery shell at its Gorge Test Area in the arsenal, about a mile from the Angeles’ home.
After failing to detonate the “live, unfuzed M107 155mm” on the first try, “ARDEC personnel fired a second shaped charge at the side wall of the M107 projectile. This time, the projectile blew apart. Not unexpectedly, fragments of the M107 projectile were ejected as a consequence of the explosion,” the complaint states.
“As a result of the explosion of the M107 projectile, a roughly two pound metal fragment (part of the projectile’s casing) traveled approximately one mile and impacted the Angle family home.
“The casing fragment crashed through the roof of the structure, pierced the ceiling of [daughter] Cassandra’s bedroom, and landed on Cassandra’s bed.
“The family cat, Sarah, was sleeping on Cassandra’s bed. The fragment landed on Sarah’s face, mortally (though not immediately) injuring her. Sarah would later be euthanized by a veterinarian in the presence of the family while being held in Brandon’s arms.”
The Angles say the Army failed to take any precautionary measures, though it was aware “the projectile fragments could travel off-base.”
ARDEC “confirmed that the fragment had been part of the M107 projectile that was exploded,” and “outdoor testing at Picatinny Arsenal remains suspended to this day,” according to the complaint.
The family seeks costs and damages from the United States, for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and nuisance.They are represented by Daniel Perez of Newton, N.J.