Bluffton SUV back on road, but few clues on origin of chemical explosive inside

astice@islandpacket.comApril 12, 2012 

Michael Appenelli finished replacing the cracked windshield on his car Thursday after it was damaged by a chemical explosion earlier this week.

Neither he nor investigators know who placed the soda bottle filled with chemicals in his unlocked SUV in Bluffton's Baywood neighborhood.

"It was shocking," the 64-year-old said. "I walked out to the car and saw the cracked windshield and chemicals all over dashboard."

The incident shut down the neighborhood from about 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, with "no one going in or out" as members of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and a hazardous-materials cleanup team inspected the scene, Appenelli said.

The Bluffton Township Fire District verified that no hazardous fumes or further public safety risk resulted from the chemical reaction.

Investigators won't say what was in the concoction. Appenelli said it was a mix of an acid and antifreeze, with steel wool wrapped around the bottle to act as the igniter.

He could smell fumes from the car when he walked to where he had parked it at his Juniper Lane home the night before.

Hazmat crews cleaned up the spill, and the car can be driven, now that the windshield has been replaced. The damage was estimated at $200, Appenelli said.

He and his family have no idea who put the concoction in the vehicle. The SUV is also frequently driven by his 22-year-old son.

The Sheriff's Office has no witnesses and no suspects, said Sgt. Robin McIntosh.

These days, Appenelli said, he makes sure to lock the car.

"Maybe a little late, but we lock it now," he said. "We also plan on getting a security camera and putting it outside."

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