Niece: Eatery was longtime dream for food-truck blast victim

Posted: July 03, 2014

OLGA GALDAMEZ always dreamed of opening her own restaurant.

When the logistics of a full-scale eatery proved too much, Galdamez set her sights on running a food truck. About two months ago, that dream became a reality.

"Cooking is her passion, and everyone loves her food," her niece Yasmin - whose last name is being withheld at Yasmin's request - said last night outside Temple University Hospital.

Galdamez, 42, was cooking churrasco, tacos and other traditional Guatemalan dishes inside her truck, La Parrillada Chapina, on Tuesday on Wyoming Avenue near 3rd Street in Feltonville. Suddenly, a leak in one of the truck's propane tanks caused a massive explosion that sent Galdamez, her daughter Jaylin Landaverry, 17, and 11 others to the hospital, police said.

Five of those injured, including Galdamez, Landaverry, and a 13-year-old relative, remained in critical condition last night.

"It's tough for me . . . we didn't expect anything like this to happen; it came out of nowhere," Yasmin said.

It's the second time in two years that tragedy has struck her family: Edgar Landaverry, Jaylin's father, was killed in 2012 in a fiery car crash in Guatemala.

"It's hard to bear something so similar after losing him," Yasmin said.

An investigation into the explosion by police and Fire Department officials determined that one of the truck's 100-pound propane tanks had a "significant leak" that caused a cloud of propane gas to envelop the truck, police said.

The gas eventually made its way inside the truck - which the Department of Licenses & Inspections confirmed is licensed to operate on that block of Feltonville - and a spark from the stove ignited it, causing a massive fireball that spanned Wyoming Avenue and launched the leaking tank 95 feet, cops said.

Yasmin said her aunt and cousin were conscious last night, but doctors wouldn't allow relatives to visit. Hospital staff said they may not be able to do so until next week.

The 18-year-old was full of grief over what happened to Landaverry, a rising senior at Little Flower Catholic High School in Hunting Park.

"She probably woke up and said, 'Yeah, Mom, I'll help you,' thinking it was a normal day," Yasmin said.

"Then this happened."

To hear Yasmin tell it, her cousin puts family above all else, and is always willing to help her mom cook, especially during weddings and other large family gatherings.

"She's a sweetheart - she's always looking out for the people who meant the most to her."

On day of explosion, ambulances sometimes were unavailable.

On Twitter: @Vellastrations

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