FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Seriously burned in a boat explosion and fire last week in Fort Lauderdale, the skipper Tuesday described the ordeal from his bed in the burn unit at Ryder Trauma Center.
“I’m doing much better, thank you,” Bart Lopresti said in response to a reporter’s question, a wry grin on his scorched face.
Lopresti was vacationing from New Jersey with his girlfriend, Fabiola Agudelo and their son Chase, when he awoke Wednesday about dawn to the smell of gasoline on board their 40 foot cabin cruiser, Chico Malo, or Bad Boy. He went below to the engine room to investigate.
“It totally exploded right in front of me,” he said.
Lopresti said the blast demolished the living area above the engine room.
“It lifted up every floorboard, it lifted up the sofa, the kitchen counter, the countertops, it blew out all the windows in the boat,” he said.
His clothes on fire Lopresti said he fought his way to the front cabin of the boat where his girlfriend and their son were cowering.
“I got him up, and I grabbed her up, and by the time we walk down from the front of the boat off the boat, it was already in flames.”
Fabiola Agudelo has no memory of being rescued, and thought that the man of her life, the father of their son, had been killed.
“I started screaming, asking people can you help me. And I was thinking he was dead, “she said, wiping tears from her cheeks.
Lopresti was burned on his hands, legs, arms, back and face. He peeled off his nylon shorts that had melted onto his body. He credits the marina manager at Kira-Mar Waterfront Villas and Dock with having the quick sense to push him into a cold shower to stop the burning.
He realizes he, they all, might be dead, but for what must have been divine intervention.
“I thank God that I didn’t get knocked over, get hit with something, something where it could have dazed me more,” He said.
Lopresti said he has endured daily deriding, or scrubbing, of his burns as part of his treatment.
The self employed construction worker has no medical insurance, and is facing medical bills that will easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A fund to help has been set up at giveforward.com/fundraiser/GT92/BartLoprestiburnfund