Early morning Feb. 11, witnesses reported hearing an explosion and seeing a man engulfed in flames running toward a dark-colored pickup truck parked at an Islamorada marina.
He got in the truck. Two other men were with him, and they drove to a South Miami-Dade County home before driving the severely wounded man, Angelo Marks, 45, to Jackson South Medical Center.
Meanwhile, back at the Coral Bay Marina on Upper Matecumbe Key, two dry docked boats were completely destroyed by fire and a third badly damaged by the flames.
Marks’ injuries were so severe that police said at the time they did not expect him to survive. Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said in a February radio interview that Marks had serious wounds on his face, hands, feet, legs and groin area. Nearly half of his body was charred, Ramsay said.
As Marks frantically shed his flaming clothes and his companions tried to pat down his burning body, he left behind his wallet and ID.
Sheriff’s office detectives and the state Fire Marshal are investigating the case as arson to collect insurance money, Ramsay said at the time. Neither agency would comment on the investigation Wednesday.
“It’s an open case,” said Adam Linhardt, sheriff’s office spokesman. Devin Galetta from the Fire Marshal responded similarly.
“The investigation remains open and ongoing and we cannot provide any further information at this time,” said Galetta.
There have been no arrests made in the case, and Marks, who is originally from Mesa, Arizona, remains in the hospital, Linhardt said Wednesday.
The blaze started on a charter boat called the Double Agent. About five hours after it started, one of the three men called Monroe County 911 to report the fire, saying that while they were cleaning the boat, it accidentally went on fire.
“Their story was they were cleaning the boat at 12:45 in the morning, in the dark” and they “scrubbed the deck with gasoline and paint thinner,” Ramsay said on U.S. 1 Radio News in February.
The caller said one of the men lit a cigarette and threw the match, which blew back on the boat and caused an explosion.
Ramsay said at the time that the owner of the 34-foot Glacier Bay catamaran, Nicholas Johns, 21, had been trying to sell the vessel for some time, but he couldn’t get rid of it, despite lowering the price.
Johns, from Homestead, did not respond to an email request for comment. The number listed for Double Agent Fishing Charters is no longer in service.
The witness who saw Marks running while on fire reported hearing a loud explosion first. Another witness also reported hearing a loud bang. That woman told police she saw three men standing next to a pickup truck. One of them was holding a “fire stick,” according to a sheriff’s office incident report, and threw it onto the deck of an already burning boat.
Another witness told police he saw three men working on the Double Agent, and they told him it was having electrical problems.
“The boat was reportedly on fire moments later,” Linhardt said in February.
Ramsay said investigators found gasoline on the boat’s front seat cushions, a box of matches left behind, and three cans of charcoal lighter fluid inside the men’s pickup truck.
Also destroyed in the fire was a 50-foot Sea Ray Express Cruiser called the “Good Hair Day II.” A 45-foot, double-hulled Corinthian pontoon boat, the “Snorkel Express,” which operated tours out of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, was badly damaged in the fire, but not destroyed.