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Nov 14, 2011

Trucker’s lighter triggers deadly explosion

John Gillett

A relatively quiet Saturday night ended in tragedy for the family of John Gillett. The trucker and his son-in-law were fueling a heavy dump truck but because the diesel did not appear as usual, Gillett tested it with a lighter. That single act caused a huge explosion that threw Gillett several feet away. Plans where being made to airlift Gillett to Guatemala for medical treatment but he did not survive the severe burns to most of his body. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports from Orange Walk Town.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The singed remains of a pair of Old Navy denim worn by fifty-seven year old John Gillett while fueling his dump truck is a stark reminder of the tragedy that befell his family on Saturday night.  While his wife and kids were anticipating the Pacquiao/Marquez bout, Gillett, along with his son-in-law Errol Diaz, was preparing for the day ahead.  Moments later a dangerous explosion erupting from an external fuel tank shook their San Francisco Street neighborhood.  The deadly blast threw the career hauler several feet away before landing near the rear right tire of this International truck.

Keisha Gillett

Keisha Gillett, Daughter of John Gillett

“Apparently while ih di pour een di diesel eena di truck, him along with Errol Diaz, he told Errol that di diesel look to dark, ih noh look normal.  So he just put up di lighter and lit it and when he did that well everything just exploded from there.  He flew a little distance and he was on fire for a while.  It took a little while for him, for us to out the blaze.”

The gaseous combustion consumed sixty percent of Gillett’s body causing severe second degree injuries.  From the groin up, including his upper chest and face, he was harshly blistered.  Keisha’s spouse, on the other hand, is lucky to have survived the ordeal.

Keisha Gillett

Errol Diaz

“Errol he got burnt but not as bad.  He [suffered] second degree burns on his hands and first degree on other parts of his body but my dad he was completely, from knees up, [his] face completely burned, second degree as well.”

Orange Walk police have since launched an investigation into the incident.  His family argues that diesel which is heavier than other conventional fuels burns slower, leading them to believe that the liquid petroleum product he purchased may have been contaminated with gasoline.

Keisha Gillett

“He died last night.  This morning about 3:30 he couldn’t make it.  It was too much, all the throat and the mouth, the breathing tube, everything [was] burnt.  They had to, we were supposed to fly him out to Guatemala yesterday but he started to have problem breathing so he couldn’t [be airlifted].  They had to do a surgery and put in a breathing tube and they had to put him in a little coma, you know, to avoid the pain but he didn’t make it.”

Errol Diaz remains quarantined at the Northern Regional Hospital where he is currently undergoing medical treat for extensive trauma.

Keisha Gillett

“They have him separated from everybody else, you know, because of the seriousness of the injuries to his hand, like I said second degree.  But other than that he’s fine, he’s just in a lot of pain.”

News Five understands that a sample of fuel has been collected for chemical testing from the five-gallon container which was being used on the night of the incident. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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16 Responses for “Trucker’s lighter triggers deadly explosion”

  1. Earl Grey says:

    A simple case of lack of knowledge….MY SYMPATHY TO THE FAMILY.


  2. shabba says:

    no way that was diesel in the tank. I can throw a match into a bucket of diesel and it wont light.

  3. me says:

    The contents of the gas should not be of any significance. YOU NEVER LIGHT A FLAME AROUND ANY TYPE OF FUEL!

  4. belizeanpride says:

    MY CONDOLENCE TO THE GRIEVING FAMILY it’s understood that they are hard working people credit to them but the reality is being a little care less, can cause fatalities, i’ve seen people do this with diesel yes but it’s risky never try that, think before.

  5. landi says:

    That is so tragic and sad. Condolences. A little advise to those who assist people in jumpstarting vehicles: Never connect all the terminals: Procedure: Positive from the charged battery to Positive of the discharged battery; Negative of the charged battery to any unpainted part of the vehicle that is being jump started. Connecting negative to the negative pole of thebattery can cause an explosion and serious injuries.

  6. CEO says:

    This was not a good way to find out if the fuel was contaminated.

  7. Be Real says:

    This is sad. He should have used a cell phone as a light source or a torch. Having an open flame near diesle or petrol fumes is a deadly combination. That is why gas station everywhere have a no smoking sign. it is because the cigerette flame can ignite the petrol fumes in the air NOT becuase they think you will drop the cigarette in a puddle of gas/diesel or kerosene.

  8. Tiffany says:

    I am one of the niece of my John Gillett. I agree that yes it was not a good way for him to test to see if the fuel was contaminated. However please note that mu uncle have been in the business of a mechanic for almost 30 years. He has been fixing diesel vehicle a long time. This is a stark reminder of what they are selling you in a gas station. Somebody must be held liable for there action of selling a contaminated fuel. It is clear that the diesel had it much more gas than diesel in order to cause such huge explosion. This is the matter the family is very distraught about. Like I said my uncle did a foolish act but if they had sell him what he thought he bought this would have never happen!!!

  9. Nicole says:

    Its so sad that a hard working family man lost his life in this manner it saddens the Orange Walk community as Mr. John was loved by all and known to all. a great loss! ALWAYS USE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS WHEN HANDLING ANY FLAMMABLE SUBSTANCE. R.I.P. MR. JOHN

  10. Nicole says:


  11. Elvis cano says:

    I’m sorry for your loss cousin Nedia!! May God comfort you !!!
    Rest in Peace John!!

  12. 14Rancho says:

    I wonder if he thought it was contaminated with water? It sounds like it was contaminated with gasoline. Diesel would be much more unlikely to explode.

  13. tris says:

    this is my friends brother and she has to travel all the way from the u.s. because of this. my love goes out to her, her kids, sisters, and the rest of the fam. luv ya mama.

  14. Bally says:

    Condolences to the family i hope something is done about this and please folks be careful out there its a mad world everyone trying to make a buck out of a penny.

  15. victor Alvarado says:

    Sorry for the loss. Its so sad to loose someone too soon!

  16. ER says:

    Which fuel station did they get the diesel from?

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