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Man in car explosion dies days later



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A silver PT Cruiser exploded with a man inside on March 16 in the parking lot of Green Valley Motor Lodge in Nashville, Indiana. The man died Wednesday.  Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

A man who survived a March 16 car explosion in Nashville, Indiana, died Wednesday in Indianapolis, according to the Brown County prosecutor.

The man was inside of a silver PT Cruiser when it exploded last Friday in the parking lot of the Green Valley Motor Lodge. He managed to drive about a mile on State Road 46 in the damaged car before police stopped him.

Although the man was under criminal investigation following the explosion, he was not charged or booked in jail. Brown County Prosecuting Attorney Theodore Adams said in a Friday press release the explosion seemed to be intentional. 

Adams said in the release a suicide note was later found in the man’s room at the Nashville motel and included an apology for the mess. Directions to a longer suicide note on his laptop were also found in the room.

The Brown County Sheriff’s Office was investigating the explosion but sent the case Monday to the Brown County prosecutor for consideration. The case is now considered closed. 

Public Information Officer Josh Stargell said in a March 18 press release the explosion was not related to drugs. 

A propane tank inside the car exploded, according to investigators. The driver told police the explosion happened as he lit a cigarette while sitting in the car.

The driver, who was a guest at the motel, was not injured in the explosion. No one at the motel was harmed. Police found the driver near the west gate of Brown County State Park, which is about a mile away from the motel. The driver was then taken to the Columbus Regional Health Stress Center. 

The metal on the PT Cruiser was twisted and wrecked in the explosion, and the windshield and windows were blown out. The driver’s hat was burned to the ceiling of the car.

Pieces of the car, including its windshield and windows, landed in the parking lots of the motel and the Little Nashville Opry building next door. A pickup truck that was parked near the PT Cruiser is damaged. The windows of two rooms in the motel, which are located close to where the driver was parked, are broken.

The explosion was heard from miles away. People throughout Nashville and as far as the Brown-Bartholomew county line heard the noise, according to the Brown County Democrat.

The manager of the Green Valley Motor Lodge, who asked not to be named, was watching a Hallmark movie when the walls around her starting shaking as a car in the parking lot exploded.

“It felt like an earthquake,” she said. “Everything was rattling and shaking, and it was just the loudest boom.”

The manager immediately called 911 after the explosion.

She told dispatchers what she saw after the explosion. 

The man left the car to go back to his room at the motel. He then took something — she was not sure what it was — from the room, returned to his mangled car, threw the object in the back and drove off.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.

The manager said she later watched security footage of the explosion. The surveillance video shows a light inside the PT Cruiser right before the car exploded, but it is unclear exactly what the light was.  

The camera then broke off from the motel’s office.

She is still finding debris from the explosion around the motel, the manager said. Glass and car parts were found scattered throughout the rooms. The explosion damaged walls and televisions in the rooms, and it blew the dishes out of her kitchen cabinet. 

The man arrived at the motel last Thursday. The manager said he was friendly and sociable, but his facial expressions led her to believe he was feeling depressed. She said she had conversations with him, but he also seemed like he did not want to be bothered, and he did not want his room to be cleaned.

“I honestly said a prayer for him Thursday night, because I’ve been there, and I know the feeling,” she said. “I could feel that he was in pain.”

The manager said she was mainly worried about the other people at the motel after the explosion. She was concerned that there would be another explosion, so she waited until the police arrived before checking on all the guests.

“It was just a miracle that everybody was okay,” she said.

This story and photo caption has been updated, and more information will be published as it becomes available.

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