48-year-old dies after personal watercraft explodes at Colorado River boat launch

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A 48-year-old California man trying to start a personal watercraft on a trailer on a boat ramp died Friday when it exploded, authorities say.

The 12:39 p.m. blast hurled Juan Antonio Pineda-Flores, of Moreno Valley, into the Colorado River near the border of California and Arizona, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

Onlookers rescued Pineda-Flores and provided first aid, but he later died at the hospital, the news release said.

Authorities suspect a buildup of fuel or vapors inside the watercraft’s hull caused it to explode.

Sgt. Jeffrey Cross of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department told the Los Angeles Times that his agency has seen four similar incidents this season, citing high temperatures and ethanol-based fuels.

“Ethanol fuel breaks down fuel lines and gaskets in engines, causing fuel leaks, and the compression of initial startup causes explosions,” Cross told the publication.

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