The investigation into a boat explosion at the Westport Marina will continue for at least another month, and one official said the true cause may never be known.
More than 70 officials convened at the marina Monday and Tuesday to investigate the explosion of the Champion II charter boat, which killed a 19-year-old Denver man in June.
Lincoln County Fire Marshal Mike Futrell said the investigation is still waiting for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to release its findings from the surveillance video of the explosion. That could take another month, Futrell said.
“It's a drawn-out process, but you want to make sure you come up with the right conclusion if you can determine one,” Futrell said. “We had so many groups there and so many different opinions. If they can all agree on the cause, then we will go with it. But if not, we will leave it as undetermined.”
Futrell said investigators still believe vapors had been ignited, which caused the explosion. But the reason the vapors ignited is still being determined.
Nate Coppick, a crew member on the boat and a marina employee, was killed.
Westport Marina owner Lowry Hobbs said the aftermath from the explosion has taken a toll, although the marina is still doing well financially. “It really just devastated us,” he said. “I couldn't even function for three months. We all loved Nate. He was the first dockhand I hired three years ago.”
Hobbs said the marina sustained “significant” damage from the blast, but declined to say how much it cost. He said the marina still does not have working gas dispensers at the dock and said that won't happen for another six weeks.
He said that once the marina gets those dispensers, Westport will have new policies in place. Hobbs said dockhands won't be allowed to fuel boats, but will observe and guide customers who will do it themselves. All passengers will be required to get off boats, and boat ventilation systems will be turned on before refueling.
Hobbs added that he has now seen the video more than 100 times in the past few weeks, and said he's trying to figure out what happened.
“In my opinion, no one did anything willfully wrong,” he said. “No one did anything they thought was remotely wrong …You want to know if it is something you can avoid so it doesn't happen again.”