MIAMI – Burt Korplen’s boat caught on fire and burst into flames on Thursday near Dinner Key Marina in Biscayne Bay.
“Only thing I remember is turning the key to start the motor the second time and it exploded and him grabbing me and screaming, ‘Dad! Dad! Dad!’”
His son Hans Korplen was nearby in a separate boat and rushed to his father’s rescue.
“All I heard was an explosion. I immediately jumped in,” Hans Korplen said. “If I didn’t do that he would be dead.”
Both Korplen men survived. Fire Rescue personnel took Burt Korplen to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he was quickly treated and released.
“I’m a very lucky man,” Burt Korplen said.
Miami-Dade firefighters used white foam to extinguish the flames. According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel, the captain’s 34-foot cruiser broke down. Burt Korplen was in the process of restarting it when it exploded and sent him flying into the water.
Hans Korplen helped his father into a skiff and they were both able to make it back to shore. Witnesses called 911. The U.S. Coast Guard tended to the boat before it was towed.