Arlington Heights man killed in Wilmette boat explosion

A 67-year-old Arlington Heights man died Saturday after an accidental boat explosion in Wilmette Harbor in north suburban Wilmette.

The Cook County medical examiner's office identified the man as Mitchell Z. Sroka.

The private boat exploded at about 8 a.m. at the Sheridan Shores Yacht Club, police said. A second man, a 74-year-old Arlington Heights resident, was hospitalized with injuries that are not life-threatening.

Police said the explosion appears to be accidental.

Other boaters said Sroka frequently came to the harbor to fish.

The injured man was standing on the dock when the boat exploded. The body of the man who was killed was recovered by divers. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The boat was tethered to a fueling dock when it exploded, said Wilmette Fire Chief Benjamin Wozney.

Wozney said the boat was not being fueled at the time of the fire and the fueling station was not damaged. It is unclear what started the fire.

The boat was half-submerged and expected to be removed by a salvage company, Wozney said.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), which handles watercraft incidents, is investigating.

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