Boat refueling in Manorhaven marina explodes, kills owner, injures one

A boat refueling at a Manorhaven marina went up in flames after it exploded, killing one man, forcing another to jump into the water and burning a dock worker who got the drifting, fiery vessel away from shore. (Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin and Howard Schnapp)

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A boat refueling at a Manorhaven marina exploded and went up in flames Wednesday, killing the boat's owner, forcing another to jump into the water and injuring a third man who pushed the fiery vessel away from shore, authorities said.

The vessel's owner and one male passenger were on the 33-foot Carver at the Manhasset Bay Marina at Matinecock Avenue when the vessel exploded at 2:49 p.m., said Det. Lt. John Azzata of the Nassau police homicide squad.

The force of the explosion hurled the victim into the water and he sustained fatal injuries, police said. The passenger dove into the water and was not injured.

Two dock workers at the pump escaped harm, but police said a third dock worker went on a boat and shoved the burning vessel away from the dock, sustaining burns to his arms and face. He was hospitalized in stable condition Wednesday night.

"A Good Samaritan comes along and pushes the boat away," said Michael F. Uttaro, Nassau County assistant chief fire marshal.

The boat drifted into an adjoining dock, setting it on fire and damaging two other boats, police said.

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According to some authorities, the boat was then towed toward open water by the dock worker, where it was engulfed in flames in Manhasset Bay.

The boat owner was Bob Hogan, a retired NYPD captain, a former mayor of Plandome Manor, a former New York City assistant traffic commissioner for the transportation department and a decades-long member of the NYPD Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, said Brian Coughlan, the society's band master. Records show Hogan was 74.

His affable nature, combined with his organizational and listening skills, helped him in his career and drew many friends to him, said Coughlan, a detective sergeant in the NYPD bomb squad. Hogan wrote a book about the band, and kept marching with vigor in the St. Patrick Day's Parade in Manhattan and often hosted friends on boat outings on the Long Island Sound.

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Hogan also unsuccessfully ran for Port Washington Village police commissioner in 2010. In a brief bio about himself, he said he helped negotiate city contracts in his positions and was an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Task Force.

"He was a Renaissance man," Coughlan said. "He had a lot of different interests and he excelled in all of them. It's a terrible loss not just to the band but for the guys who will never have the opportunity to know him."

Matt Meyran, owner of a water taxi company that services the marina, said Hogan had owned his boat, the Gary Owen, for about 30 years and he would take water taxis back and forth from the boat.

"He was an awesome guy," he said. "A really nice guy.

"He was fueling up and the boat blew up, that could be anything," Meyran said. "When there are fuel docks and you've got old boats, that will happen."

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Hogan's body was later recovered, Uttaro said.

Fire boats from the New York City Fire Department, the town constables and other agencies had flames under control within 45 minutes, authorities said.

Uttaro said the boat "burned down to the water line," but that firefighters secured it so it can be investigated further.

The cause of the explosion was unknown Wednesday night.

The explosion brought out many residents who rushed to the scene as thick smoke could be seen for miles. The village's chief of code enforcement, Patrick Abramski, noticed the smoke east of Village Hall, and hurried to the marina.

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Abramski said he saw the victim who suffered burns, an older man, walking to a nearby restaurant, where he spoke to rescuers: "He seemed to have some sort of burns and scrapes. He was alert, and he seemed agitated."

Kent Martin, a sailor and an investment banker, watched the boat burn after running to the scene. He had seen billowing black smoke from his home four blocks away.

"The guy in the little silver boat was the one who towed it away, which saved a ton of boats at the risk of his own life," Martin said. "To me, he's the man. Find that guy. I'll buy him a drink."

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