Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Videographer's Condition Remains Critical After Scuba Tank Explosion

In a follow-up to the accident involving a former videographer injured when a scuba tank was knocked over and exploded in his garage, Rick Allen remains in critical condition.

One of Allen's hands was severed in the blast, and his left arm was amputated to the elbow as a result, Burnham said. He has burns over 20 percent of his body - his legs, back and left side - and though he remained on a ventilator for smoke inhalation, he was alert, could see and squeeze with his right hand, she said.

"He's hanging in there. He's going to be OK," Burnham said. "It's going to be a long haul, but he's a real positive guy. I've been able to make some jokes, and I can tell when he squeezes my hand that he's laughing, so he's a strong dude."

What caused the explosion remains a mystery. Burnham said the couple, who own an underwater video and photography production business, keep a lot of dive equipment in the garage. The tank that burst contained compressed oxygen and was used in safety stops to help clear out residual nitrogen and prevent the bends, she said.

Allen told responders he bumped into the tank and knocked it over, causing the explosion that destroyed the wall separating the garage from the house. It wasn't clear what material the tank was made of.

"We're been diving for 25, 30 years, and we're real careful about all that stuff," Burnham said. "It's just a freak thing."

Authorities were continuing their investigation into the cause of the explosion. Meanwhile, the couple is focusing on moving forward, and Burnham said they have been overwhelmed by all the support they've gotten.

"I keep telling Rick about all the folks who are asking about him, and it brightens him," she said. "It makes him feel good. It's amazing how many people we know that are helping out."

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Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Allen family.

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