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Boat engine explodes; passengers OK

Being sent airborne by an engine explosion, landing in the water and then being ignored by a fellow boater would leave most people shaken. But one woman just kept right on going, and later turned the experience in to a lesson for her class.

Thomas Willoughby, 59, and his 57-year-old wife, Margaret, were traveling near EsteroBay in Southwest Florida in their 24-foot Bayliner Sunday when the engine starting running rough, according to a news report by local TV Station WINK News.

A short time later the engine exploded. Margaret, who had been sitting on the engine hatch, was sent flying through the air and into the water. Thomas jumped off the boat and swam toward her.

“Here I am in the water and I came up and started to panic,” said Margaret to NBC2. “Then when I saw [my husband] standing there with the flames behind him — that’s a picture hard to get out of your mind.”

As the couple treaded water and searched for help, one boater turned them away, saying the boat was already overloaded, according to a report from NBC2. A good Samaritan from shore, who saw the explosion, took out a boat and plucked the couple out of the water.

Margaret was taken to a local hospital for observation where it was determined she was all right. Thomas escaped with only his hair singed.

Margaret, who is a kindergarten teacher in the area, worked the explosion into her plan on Monday.

The Coast Guard pulled up remains of the boat Monday; Florida Fish and Wildlife is investigating the cause of the explosion.

— Elizabeth Ellis