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North Carolina Teen killed in Boat Refueling Explosion

Click links below for related articles
Body Found, Questions Remain (Lincoln Times-News)
Young Man Killed in Boat Explosion to be Laid to Rest (WSOC TV)
Remembering Nate Coppick (

June 17, 2008

DENVER, N.C. - A local teenage deck hand died when he was blown off a boat when it exploded on Lake Norman last week.

19 year-old Nathan Coppick who worked at the Westport Marina in Lincoln County was refueling an 80-foot chartered boat when something sparked and the boat exploded and caught fire. Four other people on the boat made it off safely.

Investigators said that a spark somewhere between the dock and the boat is what caused the explosion. The exact area of the spark is believed to be in the area of the boat’s vents that blow out air around the engine compartment.

The explosion happened as the boat was at the dock in the process of being refueled. It is believed that the spark ignited gas fumes from refueling causing the huge explosion and fire.

"We just heard an explosion and the windows shattered. We just ran off the front of the boat," said the boat's owner Cliff Champion.

Up to 150 gallons of gasoline spilled into the water making it unsafe for divers to begin their search for Coppick. Investigators believed that the teenager's body was under or near the sunken boat. Cranes and inflatable lifts were being used to hoist the sunken boat from the Lake floor. Searchers found the body the next day.

The Environment Protection Agency is also expected to head to the scene and investigate.





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