Rhode Island beach blast victim speaks out

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — Salty Brine Beach in Narragansett is back open one day after a woman was hurt in an apparent explosion.

The woman was thrown from a chair and onto the rocks of a jetty around 11:15 Saturday morning, after what witnesses described as a small explosion.

The woman, identified by family members as Kathleen Danise, of Waterbury, Conn., was conscious and alert when taken to the hospital for treatment, police said. She is 60 years old, according to her sister Laura Demartino.

Danise spoke briefly Sunday evening about the beach blast upon her return to Connecticut.

“The last thing I remember was reading my book and we watched a gentlemen get ready to go scuba diving.” says Danise. “He was putting on his scuba diving gear and that’s the last thing I remember.”

Danise’s sister said she was released from Rhode Island Hospital Sunday afternoon. Family members said Danise is a registered nurse, mother, and grandmother.

Demartino returned Sunday to the spot where she said an “eruption” happened.

“She has a severe concussion. She has two fractured ribs and she’s bumps and bruises all over,” Demartino said of Danise. “She had a pound of sand in her ears, her nose.”

Police and firefighters closed the beach while they investigated the incident, but officials with the Department of Environmental Management said Saturday afternoon that no evidence of an explosive device was found.

It remains unclear what caused the blast, although officials said there was clear evidence of a “ground disturbance” at the site.

“There was some type of noise and some type of energy transfer,” said Chief Kurt Blanchard of the Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management.

Meanwhile, Demartino described the blast to Eyewitness News.

“There was a massive bang and I seen the actual rocks shift and move,” Demartino explained Sunday. “And I started screaming ‘get up, get up.’ The same time I’m screaming, the sand erupted, threw my sister from there, like a live canon, face-down, unconscious –10 feet away.”

First responders carry a woman injured during the blast off the beach Saturday. (Photo: Stacey Beal )
First responders carry a woman injured during the blast off the beach Saturday. (Photo: Stacey Beal)

Several reports of suspicious people in the area around the time of the blast were also investigated, officials said, but found to be unsubstantiated. Investigators said they are not looking for any suspects.

Investigators do not believe the blast had any connection to the suspicious boat fires Friday morning in Galilee.

“They’re saying the story wrong — there was a bang first, movement in the rocks and eruption. It all happened spontaneously — bang, move, up,” Demartino said.

According to Demartino, her other sister who was present at the time of the blast was also injured.


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