New Smyrna Beach, FL – A 66-year-old New Smyrna Beach man suffered burns over 80 percent of his body Sunday evening when an apparent propane explosion destroyed his sailboat as it was anchored in the Intracoastal Waterway, emergency responders said.
The victim, identified by New Smyrna Beach police as Richard Sweat, was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center’s burn unit with life-threatening injuries after the 8:30 p.m. incident.
“He said he was making coffee on the stove and that blew up,” U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class John Chandler said.
The force of the explosion lifted the cabin and front deck off the hull of the approximately 36-foot vessel, Chandler said.
Fire officials suspect a problem with the boat’s propane system may have caused the blast.
Chandler said residents who lived near the explosion in the 400 block of Quay Assisi, just north of the North Causeway Bridge in New Smyrna Beach, reported the explosion shaking their homes.
Sweat’s cat also was on board the vessel and it survived, Chandler said, “Although I don’t know how.”