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Explosion reported on barge near Michigan City, two injured

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. -- Two people in Michigan City are recovering Friday, after an explosion on a Port Authority boat tossed three crew members into the water.

The two hurt are facing non-life threatening injuries, although the driver of the boat told his brother that he could feel his ankle turned in the wrong direction after he fell in the water.

It was a beautiful, peaceful Friday afternoon on Michigan City’s Washington Park Marina, when a Port Authority barge took an unexpected spill.

“We heard the boom… It sounded like a piece of steel dropping in NIPSCO until we went back into the harbor, we heard that the work barge blew up inside the channel,” said Carl Stahulak, who was nearby when the explosion happened.

He immediately headed to the channel to check it out.

“We did see the barge upside down evidently, but the response was fantastic,” said Stahulak.

A Good Samaritan alerted the Coast Guard around 2:30 CT, and within minutes they were on scene, considering the station sits yards away from where the accident happened.

“They were out just cleaning up the swim buoys from the local beaches for the area from the summer and then they were on their way back in at the time it happened,” said Petty Officer James Bradberry.

The driver of the boat told his brother that they were just radioing in to say they were entering the channel, when the explosion knocked them off the boat and sent the buoys (which are laden with concrete) 20 feet into the air.

Two of the men suffered injuries to their lower extremities.

The third escaped unscathed, but EMS sent all three to the hospital.

“The good thing is everyone had life jackets on. Everyone made it out,” said Petty Officer Bradberry.

“It’s too bad the three of them got hurt. We know them all. They’re very professional and safety conscientious of course, and it just had to be a freak accident,” said Stahulak.

This ‘freak accident’ has leaked some fuel into the lake water, so the Coast Guard is standing by to try to minimize the pollution.

The Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit from Chicago will continue the investigation as they work to determine the cause.

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