‘What has he done’: Stepdad’s anguish over explosion death

 

THE stepfather of a young man who died in a ute explosion at Edmonton screamed "what has he done?" as rescuers frantically worked to extract the man from the burning vehicle.

Police have called for any witnesses to the fire that broke out inside the cab of a gardening business work utility parked along Del Manso Crescent about 2.45pm on Tuesday.

It is understood the young man, confirmed by police to be 22-years-old, had been working for his stepfather's new lawn mowing business at the time of the tragedy.

His death is being investigated by police and Workplace Health and Safety officials.

Neighbour Alana Smith said she was first alerted to the tragedy when she heard two loud "popping" sounds outside her home.

The burnt out ute of a mowing business in Del Manso Cres, Edmonton where a 19 year old man died at the scene. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
The burnt out ute of a mowing business in Del Manso Cres, Edmonton where a 19 year old man died at the scene. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

"This wasn't like a massive, loud explosion, but you could tell they were incredibly powerful," she said.

"I didn't know what the hell was going on, until I heard one of my neighbours screaming about the car.

"I came outside and I saw the dual cab ute in flames.

"The flames were as high as the palm trees and they didn't diminish in power."

Ms Smith said the man's stepfather - who had been working on a neighbour's property - came running out to the street as neighbours tried in vain to rescue the young man.

"He just kept yelling, 'what has he done?" she said.

"It was like he couldn't believe it was happening. He just went straight into shock."

She praised the efforts of emergency services, who also offered counselling to bystanders.

Officer-in-charge of Cairns CIB Detective Senior Sergeant Ed Kinbacher told reporters there was a five-minute unaccounted period of time between when the man had informed his stepfather he was feeling unwell and had gone to sit inside the vehicle, and then the explosion, and they were focusing on that.

"Our investigations today haven't indicated the fire was inherently suspicious," he said. "But we can't rule that out … The situation is unexplained."

He called for anyone who may have seen the man inside the vehicle, or anyone driving past with dashcam footage, to contact police.

If you believe you could help, contact Policelink on 131 444.