Mt. Juliet man lucky to be alive after boat explosion at gas station


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Mt. Juliet man says he is lucky to be alive after his boat exploded, with him inside.

Ryan Parris is at Vanderbilt University Medical Center recovering from first- and second-degree burns. On Sunday, he had just fueled the boat up at the Walmart off Andrew Jackson Parkway and was changing the battery on the boat when he says it began to spark.

“I was hooking it up and next thing I know flames everywhere and it was a big explosion, and I didn’t know what was going on. I thought I was going to burn to death for a minute, I didn’t know. It was super scary,” Parris explained.

Ryan Parris
Ryan Parris (right) is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center from first- and second-degree burns. (Source: GoFundMe)

A fireball engulfed the 30-year-old while he was working in the engine hatch.

“When I was hooking it up, it was coming around everywhere it was pretty scary,” he said. 

However, Parris was able to jump off the boat, and despite his burns, thought quickly, moving his truck with the 30-foot burning boat away from the gas pumps.

“I know fiberglass, it burns super quick. I’ve seen boats on fire and how fast they go up, so I knew we had to get it away otherwise it was about to get way worse than what it was,” he explained. 

That’s when his adrenaline wore off, and reality set in.

“It was probably the most scariest part of my life, and most painful for sure. It was just a pain that you can’t explain, it was all over my whole body. just kept getting worse and worse and didn’t go away.”

Parris is still in pain today, but in positive spirits, saying he is grateful to be alive.

“I was in a hurry and not thinking, because I even said I smelled gas, and I should have thought about it. Freak accident, you know? It’s unfortunate, but glad I’m here. Stuff happens that can change your life in an instant, so you gotta be, just be careful, be aware, and safe. That’s all you can do.”

Parris has a lawn care company, but can’t be outside this summer with more than 20 percent of his body burned. He hopes to be released and back home recovering within the next few days, without the need for grafts.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help during Parris’ recovery.

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