PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CBS) — A Rhode Island beach rocked by a mystery explosion Saturday was reopened Sunday, but investigators are still searching for the cause of the bizarre blast that injured one woman.
Baffled officials said they’ve never seen anything like what happened at the Narragansett beach Saturday, but even still the shore was packed once again just 24 hours later. Even WBZ-TV’s Jim Smith admitted the spontaneous explosion is one of the strangest stories he’s ever covered, and many beachgoers told him they’re still concerned and can’t shake the incident from their minds.
It was right by a jetty on the beach where the blast erupted from the sand, literally tossing 60-year-old Kathleen Danise into the air. She was conscious as first responders treated her and transported her to a local hospital. On Sunday, she was released from the hospital and returned to her Waterbury, Conn. home to recover.
“The last thing I remember was reading my book,” Danise told WBZ.
Danise’s sister, Laura DeMartino, returned to the site on Sunday and recounted the terrifying moments to WBZ-TV.
“There was a massive bang and I see the actual rocks shift and move,” DeMartino said. “I started screaming, ‘Get up, get up!’ The same time I’m screaming, the sand erupted and threw my sister from there — a live cannon, face down, unconscious, 10 feet away.”
Danise was left with a severe concussion, two fractured ribs, and lots of bruises.
Some beachgoers who witnessed the frightening occurrence returned again Sunday and described what they saw and heard to WBZ-TV.
“I heard a very loud thud. It shook the ground,” said Carl Macedo, a beachgoer from Cranston.
“It sounded almost like a sonic boom from a jet at first,” said Stephen Milstein, an East Providence resident who also witnessed the explosion. “When we turned we saw the sand up in the air and the lady go up and come down face first.”
Police, ATF agents, and bomb squad officials were all sent to the scene to try and figure out just what happened.
“We heard the boom. It sounded like a large M-80 or one of those things,” said Cheri Olf, a Tiverton resident. “We heard it and then the bomb squad came flying by us.”
Terrorism is not suspected and authorities said they did not recover any physical remains of an explosive device.
“I have not been told of any evidence that would suggest there was shrapnel or any type of device,” said Larry Mouradjian of the Rhode Island Department of Emergency Management.
Some even said it could have been some type of natural event, but witnesses told WBZ-TV the explosion left a small crater. It’s a bizarre incident that, in the end, still didn’t keep hundreds of beachgoers from the ocean.
“Watch out for the people that are around you. If there are any suspicious characters make note, but then again don’t stop yourself and your family from having a good time,” Macedo said.
In the meantime, Danise said she will not go back until there’s a reason for what she endured.
“We’ve been vacationing there for thirty years and that was my favorite location. Until we know what actually happened, no, no,” she said.
The investigation into the strange incident is still underway.