A relatively quiet Saturday night ended in tragedy for the family of John Gillett. The trucker and his son-in-law were fueling a heavy dump truck but because the diesel did not appear as usual, Gillett tested it with a lighter. That single act caused a huge explosion that threw Gillett several feet away. Plans where being made to airlift Gillett to Guatemala for medical treatment but he did not survive the severe burns to most of his body. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports from Orange Walk Town.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The singed remains of a pair of Old Navy denim worn by fifty-seven year old John Gillett while fueling his dump truck is a stark reminder of the tragedy that befell his family on Saturday night. While his wife and kids were anticipating the Pacquiao/Marquez bout, Gillett, along with his son-in-law Errol Diaz, was preparing for the day ahead. Moments later a dangerous explosion erupting from an external fuel tank shook their San Francisco Street neighborhood. The deadly blast threw the career hauler several feet away before landing near the rear right tire of this International truck.
Keisha Gillett, Daughter of John Gillett
“Apparently while ih di pour een di diesel eena di truck, him along with Errol Diaz, he told Errol that di diesel look to dark, ih noh look normal. So he just put up di lighter and lit it and when he did that well everything just exploded from there. He flew a little distance and he was on fire for a while. It took a little while for him, for us to out the blaze.”
The gaseous combustion consumed sixty percent of Gillett’s body causing severe second degree injuries. From the groin up, including his upper chest and face, he was harshly blistered. Keisha’s spouse, on the other hand, is lucky to have survived the ordeal.
“Errol he got burnt but not as bad. He [suffered] second degree burns on his hands and first degree on other parts of his body but my dad he was completely, from knees up, [his] face completely burned, second degree as well.”
Orange Walk police have since launched an investigation into the incident. His family argues that diesel which is heavier than other conventional fuels burns slower, leading them to believe that the liquid petroleum product he purchased may have been contaminated with gasoline.
“He died last night. This morning about 3:30 he couldn’t make it. It was too much, all the throat and the mouth, the breathing tube, everything [was] burnt. They had to, we were supposed to fly him out to Guatemala yesterday but he started to have problem breathing so he couldn’t [be airlifted]. They had to do a surgery and put in a breathing tube and they had to put him in a little coma, you know, to avoid the pain but he didn’t make it.”
Errol Diaz remains quarantined at the Northern Regional Hospital where he is currently undergoing medical treat for extensive trauma.
“They have him separated from everybody else, you know, because of the seriousness of the injuries to his hand, like I said second degree. But other than that he’s fine, he’s just in a lot of pain.”
News Five understands that a sample of fuel has been collected for chemical testing from the five-gallon container which was being used on the night of the incident. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.