A powerboat that was damaged by an explosion at Pennsylvania’s Erie Yacht Club had mechanical problems before the accident, which killed a 25-year-old woman and injured five other people, according to Erie's chief fire inspector.
The problems apparently started when the gas pump kept shutting off as an attendant filled the second of two gas tanks on the 32-foot Wellcraft, Guy Santone told the Erie Times-News.
They resulted in an explosion that killed Erin Carlisle, of Erie, and injured the gas attendant and four people on the boat, including owner Aaron Hertel and Hertel's 2-year-old son.
An investigation into the cause of the blast revealed a faulty gasket in the boat's right tank that investigators believe “gave way,” Santone said. That allowed gas fumes to enter the engine compartment instead of going out of the boat, he added.
The buildup of fumes fueled an explosion that investigators believe was set off when the boat backfired as Hertel tried to start it, Santone said.
The boat, named Jimmy Time, was split in half by the force of the explosion, which occurred Monday, he said.
Investigators said they believe Hertel had owned the boat for a little more than a week and that Monday night was the first time he had filled its tanks since he bought the vessel.
The ongoing investigation will include trying to obtain records from the boat’s previous owner, Santone said.