7-year-old burned in boat explosion on South River

June 25, 1996|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

A 7-year-old Prince George's County youth was injured over the weekend when the engine compartment of his family's 22-foot boat exploded on the South River at Thomas Point, near Annapolis.

Gregory Matthew Tanner of the 10500 block of Deakins Hall Drive in Adelphi received second-degree burns along his left shoulder and forearm. His hair also was singed.

The accident happened about 12: 30 p.m. Sunday while the family of four was on a day trip on its 1988 Citation, said Richard J. McIntire, a spokesman for the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Gregory's parents, Gary and Christine Tanner, told police they stopped the engine to tow an inner tube, and Tanner checked the boat's bilge area for fuel leaks and for fumes before restarting the boat. About 30 seconds after the boat was started, the engine compartment exploded and threw Gregory into the air and then into the burning compartment.

Police said Christine Tanner pulled her son from the flames and threw him into the river along with his 3-year-old sister, also named Christine. She then jumped into the water to save her children while her husband fought the flames with extinguishers. When the flames overwhelmed the boat, Gary Tanner jumped off and the boat sank in 32 feet of water, police said.

All four family members were brought to shore by a passing boater. Gregory was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he was treated and released. DNR police arrived at the scene at 1: 30 p.m.

"Boat explosions occur less than 10 times per year" in Maryland, McIntire said. "Unfortunately, when it happens, there are usually severe injuries resulting from the accident."

To prevent explosions, DNR police suggest that boaters always examine the bilge area of their vessels before starting the engine. Also, before starting the engine or while it is idling for an extended period, the blower should be on or the bilge hatch should be left open for four to five minutes for ventilation, police said.

Pub Date: 6/25/96

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