Interview with Lake Norfork boat fire survivor

Source: Jamie Dial
Source: Jamie Dial
Source: Jamie Dial
Source: Jamie Dial
Source: Seth Nelson
Source: Seth Nelson

BAXTER COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - An afternoon boat ride on Norfork Lake, Sunday ended with a bang and burns for a Halliday woman.

Loretta Hawley says she'll go back on the water, but this past weekend's experience with fire and water said to her God was watching over her and her friends on the boat.

It was little past noon and they had just fueled up and were going past the no wake zone back on to the lake to rejoin the guys.

Hawley says they slowed to make some phone calls when the engine compartment blew right beside her.

"I knew that I was burned." Hawley said as she rocked on her front porch. "I told my friends, "I'm burned, I'm burned" and made my way to the front of the boat and by then I could see smoke."

It was time to abandon ship. Hawley's Sister in Law Melissa got her into a life jacket and the boats owner Regina Regans took a hold of her.

Hawley, "She saw that I wasn't going to be able to get myself into the water so she pushed me to safety into the water and stayed with me the whole time."

By now fire had begun to flow from the engine compartment as the rest of the passengers went into the lake. Pictures show huge flames leaping from the engine compartment and boats maneuvering in to give assistance.

Of all the boats now around them, Hawley said. "I'm thankful we were close to the boat dock because there were people responding very quickly. We weren't in the water very long."

Hawley suffered burns from the explosion. Her right leg is still swathed in gauze and tape. "All of my burns are from the waist down and on just this one side, first degree and some second degree." Hawley said.

She's not sure what caused the 2 large bruises on her right arm.

"I feel like that boat cover,engine cover may have come over and protected and hit me in the arm." she said.

Hawley says she is grateful to everyone who helped them on the scene and after, especially the EMT's, the folks at Baxter Regional Hospital and the Wound center at St. Bernards.

She sat a moment to regain her composure. "And of course everyone on board, my sister in law and all of those who took good care of me."

Hawley says this incident shows someone was watching over them.

Hawley, "All of us have each mentioned how God took care of us and put his protective hand over each of us and that's been the story."

The exact cause of the explosion is still undetermined.

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