(1989, California) The location: a small boat harbor in Santa Cruz. The victims: a sailboat and its owner. The opening scene: employees sprinting away from the dock's fuel pumps -- a vision guaranteed to evoke dread in the souls of innocent bystanders.
If those around you are fleeing from danger, it's a sure bet that you should follow in their footsteps. Within seconds, the entire deck of a cabin cruiser blasted five feet out of the water, propelled by enough force to fell an elephant. A bystander outside a nearby restaurant reported seeing a man fly from the airborne deck and land in the water near the flaming vessel.
The Harbor Patrol was on the scene within seconds. They fished the unconscious man from the water, and then quickly hauled the burning wreck over to a boat ramp before it set the fuel dock ablaze.
It turned out that the man spotted flying through the air had just purchased the boat, and was filling its tanks before he set sail to San Francisco. As he prepared to motor away from the fuel dock, a dock attendant noticed that he had pumped the fuel into a fishing pole holder instead of his tanks. The alarmed employee instructed him to turn on his bilge pump and blowers, but the man stated that he was in too much of a hurry to wait for the fumes to clear.
As the attendant ran for his life, sparks from the engine's starter motor ignited the accumulated fumes.
The boat was dragged from the water with a bulldozer, and hauled to the junkyard as scrap. The owner was alive when he was carted off by the ambulance, but one way or another, his odds of surviving long in this world seem poor.
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Submitted by: Corry Clemens
Reference: Santa Cruz Sentinal and Corry Clemens, eyewitness.