Woman remains in critical condition after food truck explosion

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VERO BEACH — Michelle Dietterick remained in critical condition on Friday after her food truck exploded last weekend at the Vero Beach Seafood Festival, according to her husband Scott Dietterick. Indian River County Fire Rescue crews said the flash fire that tore through the food truck was the result of a propane explosion.

Michelle Dietterick remained in the intensive care unit at Orlando Health Regional Medical Center for six days after the incident, her husband Scott Dietterick said in an update Friday. Scott Dietterick, of Port St. Lucie, set up a GoFundMe fundraising page on Monday to raise money for his wife’s medical bills.

Michelle Dietterick was inside her food truck, called “Michelle’s Catch of the Day,” which she owned with her husband when the incident occurred, Vero Beach police said. The explosion left Michelle Dietterick with severe burns to her face, hands, arms and legs.

“She broke her facial bones and had a collapsed lung,” Scott Dietterick said on the GoFundMe page. “Michelle will be in recovery for a long time and we are asking for donations to help with Michelle’s expenses. Thank you in advance for your kind donation to help with Michelle’s recovery.

As of Friday night, nearly $15,000 had been raised of a $25,000 goal, the GoFundMe page showed. Several people left words of support on the page, wishing Michelle Dietterick comfort and a speedy recovery.

What happened

Vero Beach officers responded to reports of a concession trailer explosion at 8:56 a.m. on May 14 in Riverside Park, according to a police report. Witnesses reported smelling propane moments before the food truck exploded, Vero Beach police spokesman Senior Officer Darrell Rivers said earlier.

Officers arrived to find Michelle Dietterick semi-alert, conscious, and lying on the ground. Police gave Michelle Dietterick medical attention until Indian River County fire rescue crews arrived.

Deputy Fire Chief Sean Gibbons previously said the explosion caused a flash fire, which was quickly extinguished before firefighters arrived. Michelle Dietterick was airlifted to Orlando Health Regional Medical Center.

Police spoke to workers at the event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 14-15. The food truck was going to be a vendor at the seafood festival, police said. The explosion had no impact on the opening of the festival.

A festival employee spoke to the owner of the trailer earlier about the smell of gas, police said in a report. The employee told police that the trailer had two 100-pound tanks outside and one of the tanks appeared to be empty.

The worker walked away and shortly after heard the explosion, according to reports. Mike’s Garage & Wrecker Service removed the debris from the food truck.

“We appreciate all the prayers, love and support during this difficult time,” Scott Dietterick said. “Thank you all.”

The state fire marshal continues to investigate the explosion.

Pictures of Kaila Jones

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