A 59-year-old Santa Monica man died after an explosion in his vehicle threw him against the side of an adjacent trailer at a mobile home park on Stewart Avenue in Santa Monica Sunday, afternoon, April 22nd, Santa Monica police and fire officials said.
The man, identified by police as James Wright Marshall, was treated at the scene by Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD) paramedics and taken to the trauma center at UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, where he was later pronounced dead, Santa Monica police Lt. Alex Padilla said.
The force of the “huge” explosion had thrown Marshall against the side of a neighboring trailer, where a four-year-old girl was sleeping in her bedroom, Santa Monica Fire Department Captain Scott Ziegert said. She was taken to a local hospital for a “checkup” but was not injured, Ziegert said.
There were no other serious injuries reported but one dog was killed as a result of the explosion, Padilla said. Another dog is in serious condition at a local veterinary facility, Padilla said.
The explosion, which occurred at the mobile home park at 1930 Stewart Ave., between Delaware and Virginia Avenues, in Santa Monica, appears to have been accidental, police and fire officials said.
Marshallís trailer home and two adjacent trailer homes received significant damage in the blast, police said.
Damage to some other surrounding homes was limited to broken windows.
Santa Monica police and fire, as well as county Sheriffís Department Arson and Explosives Detail units were called to the park at 3:53 p.m., regarding reports of an explosion and fire at the scene.
Officers found Marshall with “critical injuries” near his freestanding vehicle, which was completely destroyed outside his trailer, Padilla said. Marshall was taken to the hospital, where he died at 4:49 p.m., Padilla said.
Officials said they believe the accidental explosion occurred after one of several compressed gas canisters inside Marshallís vehicle leaked a “volatile substance,” which exploded when Marshall opened the vehicle door.
“He went to get something out of the vehicle and when he did, the explosion occurred,” Ziegert speculated.
One of the compressed gas canisters stored inside Marshallís vehicle had apparently been leaking for an unknown length of time, he said.
Officials are unsure of the exact ignition source, but when the leaking substance mixed with oxygen it created the explosion, the force of which was powerful enough to blow Marshall against the trailer, Ziegert said. A cigarette and lighter were also found at the scene, he said.
“It was just an unfortunate situation,” Ziegert said of the incident.