Escondido Residents on Board During Fiery Boat Explosion

Vacationing Escondido residents were on board a vessel that burst into flames

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NBC 7's Omari Fleming spoke with a witness to the blast in Ocean Pines, Maryland and a neighbor of the two Escondido residents who survived the blast. (Published Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014)

Patrick McAllorum didn't just capture pictures of an explosive situation. He felt the blast.

"There was a huge explosion, and the whole place rocked," explained McAllorum. "I said 'What the heck was that?'"

McAllorum was walking his dog Monday in Ocean Pines, Maryland when he felt an explosion and saw a huge cloud of black smoke coming from a nearby dock.

A 24-foot inboard/outboard motor boat had erupted into flames as the boat’s owner shifted gears from reverse to forward. Two Escondido residents, on their first day of a vacation in Maryland, were sitting near the engine and took the brunt of the blast. 

He immediately thought anyone on the vessel was dead. However, neighbors had stepped in and plucked the victims and pulled them to shore.

"The explosion evidently threw the people out of the boat and in the water," he said.

According to investigators, all five people on board survived with injuries.

Escondido residents Dawn Van Deursen, 49, and Larry McPherson, 57, were two of the five passengers on board the vessel Sunday.

Their neighbors told NBC 7 they are thankful the two escaped alive.

“Wow! I heard about it,” said Theresa Murguia while looking at pictures of the flames. “I didn’t realize it was our neighbors. That’s a scary thing. I’m glad everyone is OK.”

Natural Resources Police are calling McPherson and Van Deursen lucky, considering they were sitting right above where the boat blew up.

"They took the brunt of the explosion themselves,” said Natural Resources Police public information officer Candy Thomson.

She said both were thrown to the deck of the boat and managed to climb over the side, into the water.

Bystanders then helped to pull them off the shore and out of the flames.

Thomson says McPherson suffered broken ribs.

Both he, Van Deursen and a third patient were airlifted to a Baltimore hospital for burns to their arms and legs.

What caused the boat to explode as it pulled away from the dock is still under investigation. Authorities say at this time, it seems the owner Neil Edwards did everything right.

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