Man recounts his escape during boat explosion in South Haven
KALAMAZOO, Mich. —
Screams are still ringing in the ears of one man and his grandmother, who survived a massive boat explosion in South Haven Monday.
"Hearing my grandma literally screaming for her life trying to stay alive," Alberto Torres said.
Torres said escaping the explosion was the first challenge and maybe the easiest.
He also said the toughest issue was helping his panicked grandmother who couldn't swim.
It was supposed to be just another nice day on Lake Michigan for Torres and his grandmother. He said he just bought this boat a week before floating onto the open water.
“When I got out there, I realized the waves were really choppy,” Torres said. “So, w’re out there for five minutes until we decided to turn back around. We were about a mile out from the pier.”
Torres said there were no problems on the lake until the trip took a sudden turn for the worst.
“On the way back, that's when we felt an explosion behind us and it like through our bodies forward,” Torres said. “Then when I turned around, I saw flames and instantly - within seconds - the whole boat was on fire.”
Lake visitors recorded videos and took pictures as Torres and his grandmother barely escaped the flames. He said the fire burned their life jackets while still on the boat.
“She can't swim, so she's kicking and grabbing me and pushing me under water, and she's in panic mode, and I'm trying to swim for both of us basically,” Torres said. “I had to do that for 10 minutes and I know it may seem like a long time, but 10 minutes was an eternity.
A couple on another boat came to their rescue as the black smoke grew. His grandmother giving everything to survive the explosion
“She had literally no energy,” Torres said. “Every ounce of energy should have given she did, I know she did.”
They both have been recovering well, surprisingly with no injuries. He said it's a miraculous survival story he hopes his rescuers are listening to.
“I don't think we would have made it If that couple wasn't there,” Torres said.
Torres and his grandmother were in that cold water for more than 10 minutes. He said he's feeling a bit of anxiety and guilt, but every day is getting a little easier.
He is encouraging others to have their boats checked before getting on the water.