A Bluffton man is dead after a propane tank explosion Sunday evening in the Hampton Lake community, according to the Beaufort County Coroner’s Office.
Joseph Michalcewicz, 70, died at Coastal Carolina Hospital after the explosion at his 15 Anchor Bay Court home just before 7 p.m., according to Coroner Ed Allen and Bluffton Police Department spokeswoman Joy Nelson.
“When we arrived, we found that a propane tank for a grill had exploded,” Nelson said on Monday morning. “The investigation continues into the cause of that explosion.”
Nelson said Michalcewicz’s wife was also home at the time of the blast. She was not injured.
According to a police department report, two of Michalcewicz’s neighbors heard the explosion while one of them was fishing off a dock across the pond from the Anchor Bay residence.
The man and his wife drove to Michalcewicz’s home, where they told police they found him lying face down on the back porch bleeding from a head wound and unconscious.
The man’s wife attempted to dress Michalcewicz’s head wound before she started CPR until the Bluffton Township Fire District arrived, the report said.
An officer noted that the grill on the back porch was lying on the floor. A portion of the countertop was also on the floor, and “there was debris from the explosion covering all of the back porch as well.”
More debris from the grill was found in the back yard and in a pond nearby, the report said.
Five calls about the incident came in to central dispatch Sunday night, two of which described a “loud bang” or “explosion,” according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
One nearby resident contacted the Bluffton Police Department through the agency’s page on Nextdoor.com, asking about the sound.
“I replied to them,” Nelson said. “ ‘Yes, there was an explosion. There was one injury.’ And they wrote back ‘Thank you so much for letting us know.’ ”
But no official notice was sent out by Bluffton police alerting the public to the cause of the sound.
Nelson said this is because the incident happened in a private, gated community and that there didn’t seem to be widespread public concern.
“Typically, when there’s a public safety emergency that’s going to be affecting a large population, I’ll notify the public. ... It wasn’t a mass public safety concern.”
The incident is being investigated by SLED and the Bluffton Police Department. It is standard procedure for SLED to investigate incidents that involve a death.
Allen said an autopsy for Michalcewicz will be conducted on Wednesday at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.