Hall County

Teen siblings seriously injured in boat explosion on Lake Lanier have long road to recovery

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — Two teens who were seriously injured when a boat exploded on Lake Lanier on Mother’s Day still have a long road to recovery.

The Coleman family was getting gas on a boat near the Margaritaville resort earlier this month when the boat exploded.

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Taylor, 16, and Gunner, 13, suffered serious burns and were flown to the hospital. Their mother, Anne, was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Their father, Steve, and 12-year-old youngest son Ryder sustained minor injuries.

Channel 2′s Michael Seiden talked to Steve Coleman about how his children are doing weeks after the horrific accident. Gunner was recently released from the hospital. Taylor remains in the ICU on a ventilator.

“This is worse than anything we would have ever, could have thought would’ve happened,” said Steve Coleman.


Coleman said the family had stopped at the refueling dock to gas up for the season, but when he tried to start the boat back up again, the engine wouldn’t turn over.

“We’ve never had a problem with this boat before,” Coleman said. “I tried it one more time and it just BAM.”

Channel 2′s Michael Seiden was the first reporter on the scene, where witnesses shared videos of the frightening moments the boat burst into flames.

“It was a huge billow of black smoke. There was a boat burning and a jet ski burning and the jet ski went under the dock, and it started burning,” a witness said.

Coleman said Gunner and Taylor were closest to the blast.

Gunner suffered from extensive burns to his arms and legs. He was just released from the hospital last week and is continuing his recovery as an outpatient.

“His wounds are pretty much closed, and, you know, the dressings are getting a lot smaller,” Steve said.

Coleman said Taylor has gone through three surgeries and may need more to repair burns to her arms, feet, stomach and legs.

“We are hoping she’s done with surgeries,” Steve said. “That way she can start her healing process.”

The Lake Lanier community has rallied around the family in the days since the accident, starting a meal train, a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses and selling t-shirts and bracelets reading “Coleman Strong.”

Teammates from Gunner’s middle school football team recently stopped by his home to show their support.

Steve Coleman said Gunner’s coach is optimistic he can play football this year.

The cause of the explosion remains a mystery.

“I have no idea,” Steve said. Actually, the Hall County Department doesn’t have any idea either. They pretty much called it inconclusive.”

For now, the Colemans are focusing on Taylor and her long road to recovery.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help cover the family’s medical expenses.

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