Durham comes together to remember owner of coffee shop killed in downtown explosion

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Dozens gathered Tuesday night to remember the owner of a beloved coffee shop killed in last weeks explosion. 

Kong Lee or as most people called him, Mr. Lee owned the Kaffeinate coffee shop.

“They were morning rituals, mid day pick me ups, remote work spaces, first dates and after school hang outs,” one organizer said.

Kaffeinate had only been on North Duke Street for a couple of years, still it made an impression. 

“He was a very kind man. This was something that he worked on very hard,” Satyen Patel who worked next door said.

“They were really good people. They had the best Belgian waffles. I loved it over there,” Tracey Rhoten, a neighbor said.

People lit candles and were silent for a moment of reflection. 

The blast happened Wednesday morning. Investigators said a crew installing fiber cut a gas line. Firefighters were called and started evacuating the area, then the explosion. 

Two minutes before the blast Mr. Lee posted to Instagram. He wanted his customers to know Kaffeinate would be closed that day. 

“Its pretty sad to see a hardworking 60 something year old person who was doing what he was doing, protecting his business till the last minute,” Patel said.

Also critically injured in the explosion, Jay Rambeaut of Creedmoor. 

Family members said he remains unconscious with a severe head injury. Sharpnel was found in his head and belly. 

“He was a good guy. He would do anything in the world for you,” Tim Ferguson, his neighbor said.

Ferguson said Rambeaut was there that morning to turn the gas off, but didn’t manage to do it in time.

“His wife and son is doing real good under the circumstances,” Ferguson said.

GoFundMe pages have been set up for Mr. Lee’s family and for Mr. Rambeaut’s family.
 

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