Three members of a San Bruno family are being mourned by relatives and friends who say they perished in the Sept. 9 explosion and fire, but authorities are still not officially confirming they are dead.
Greg Bullis, his teenage son William and his mother Lavonne are presumed by loved ones to have died in the disaster in San Bruno’s Crestmoor Canyon neighborhood that left at least four other people dead and destroyed 37 homes.
Gary Bullis, the brother of Greg and son of Lavonne, posted on his Facebook page last weekend, “All dead have been identified, anyone else missing are presumed dead. Mom, Greg and Willie have not been found. Thank you all for your prayers, thoughts, and help.”
Harley Strazzarino, 17, a friend of William’s from Mills High School in Millbrae, which William attended, said a group of friends gathered this week at a Chili’s restaurant in San Bruno to remember him.
“It was good just to get together to talk about him,” Strazzarino said. “We’re all pretty sad.”
He said, “I think we all think they’ve passed on.”
However, the San Mateo County coroner’s office has not yet officially confirmed that the three members of the Bullis family died in the fire.
San Bruno police announced last weekend that seven people have died, but the official number has since dropped back to the four victims identified by the coroner’s office: Jacqueline Greig, 44, her 13-year-old daughter Janessa, Jessica Morales, 20, and 81-year-old Elizabeth Torres.
“The official position we have is that there’s still four confirmed and identified,” Chief Deputy Coroner Jerry Cohn said Friday.
Cohn said there were remains found at the site of the explosion that are at a lab in Richmond this weekend. Investigators are hoping to determine if the remains are from a human or animal, and if they are human, if they can be used to identify the victims.
The coroner’s office will not know until at least Monday if the lab will even be able to glean DNA from the remains.
“It’s possible it wouldn’t because of high heat” from the explosion and fire, Cohn said.
“If you can’t make that kind of determination using DNA, there’s not a lot of other options,” he said.
Cohn said if the coroner’s office is unable to officially confirm the Bullis family members are dead, the official determination of death “would have to come from a court.”
Dan McMenamin/Chris Cooney Bay City News