Jet skier recalls own, others efforts after explosion and fire injure boater


by Brian Farrell

Posted on June 18, 2010 at 12:21 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 28 at 12:48 PM

NEWPORT NEWS -- Adrian Kotschevar got done work early Thursday and decided he'd grab a late lunch at the Crab Shack on the James River. Late lunch quickly became dinner.

"The boom, you could hear it from inside," recalls Kotschevar.

The explosion came from a 22-foot Bayliner Trophy about 500 yards off Huntington Park Beach.

Newport News firefighters got the call about it and the fire that followed it at about 3:30 p.m. Battalion Chief Steve Pincus tells 13News two people were on board. One was burned.

"Thing is, I kicked my flops off. Shirt was off. I was on the jet ski, and I was out there within seconds," recounts Kotschevar, who ran out of the restaurant near the James River Bridge and down the dock that sits behind the Crab Shack.

Many other people had the same thought as the jet skier. Lifeguards and boaters made their way to the boat that was on fire, with some of them getting to the people on the burning boat before Kotschevar reached them.

"I was like, the only thing I can do is I can try to put the boat out," says Kotschevar. "Started going faster, faster. I got up to 45, and when I started swamping it, I noticed it started diminishing the flames, and once the flames started to diminish, I just kept going at it."

When fire crews reached the boat, Kotschevar had things down to a smoulder. Firefighters took care of knocking what remained out, and emergency workers brought the boat to shore where a hazmat unit patched a fuel leak.

The injured man was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, but not before Kotschevar talked to him.

"He said he just had minor burns to his legs, and I was just making sure everything was okay that way," Kotschevar says.

Although the early thought is that the boat had some sort of mechanical issue, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is investigating the cause of the explosion and fire.