Man killed in explosion fondly remembered

YOUNGSTOWN — Akil Drake, the man killed in Tuesday’s explosion at Realty Tower, was “reliable, a hard worker and fun,” a former supervisor of the 27-year-old said.

Drake was the kind of person “you wanted around as a manager or supervisor,” said Mark Preto, football video coordinator at Youngstown State University. “He’s that kind of person who you want to watch succeed, continue to succeed in life.”

Drake worked for Preto while a student at YSU filming, editing and producing edits for the football team and its coaches in 2016, the year the Penguins made it all the way to the FCS championship game.

His body was found early Wednesday in the basement of the downtown building. The Chase Bank branch, where Drake worked, was on the building’s first floor.

“The more you think about it, the more devastating and heartbreaking and unimaginable how that all went down,” Preto said Friday.

The explosion happened just before 3 p.m. A preliminary finding in the investigation into the cause of the blast is that a natural gas line in the basement had been cut. The line was inactive, but still pressurized.

On Thursday, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and the company’s CEO of Consumer and Community Banking, Marianne Lake, sent employees a note about that explosion, which also injured several other people.

“We are devastated by the news and extend our deepest condolences to Akil’s loved ones during this incredibly difficult time,” the note states. “Our thoughts are also with the Youngstown community, especially our employees seriously injured by the blast. We’re focused on supporting them and Akil’s family now and through their recovery.”

Drake, the letter states, “was a special member of the Chase team.” Hired in February 2021 as an associate banker and promoted in 2023 to relationship banker, Drake was “loved by his team and customers,” the letter states.

Drake, a graduate of Youngstown State University, “was very active in the community and devoted much of his free time to volunteering and brainstorming ways to make Youngstown a better place,” the note states.

He graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Drake attended Penn Hills School District outside of Pittsburgh. In a release earlier this week, the district said Drake was a student-athlete who “excelled on the football field” and “will be missed by us all.”


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