Man Arrested for Sparking Gas Station Explosion

By Betty Wang, JD on November 04, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Georgia man has been arrested for allegedly sparking a gas station explosion by flicking a cigarette lighter while pumping gas.

Surveillance video shows Austin Dawkins, 37, of Clarkesville, flicking a lighter and then bringing his hand down to the nozzle, CNN reports.

The video then shows a vapor fuel explosion: Flames erupted from the nozzle and hit Dawkins' 30-year-old wife Jessica. She ended up suffering second- and third-degree burns on her legs, arms, head, and back.

Reckless Conduct Alleged

While investigators don't believe Austin Dawkins intentionally caused the explosion, he is under arrest on suspicion of reckless conduct, CNN reports. You can see the surveillance video here:

In general, reckless conduct exists when one's actions deviate from a certain standard of care. Usually, it's when the actions are taken with no regard for the safety of others.

Georgia law defines reckless conduct as conduct that causes bodily harm or endangers the safety of another person by consciously disregarding the risk of an act.

Reckless conduct is a misdemeanor in Georgia. If Dawkins is convicted, he could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to CNN.

Unintentional but Still Criminal?

Even though the gas station explosion was unintentional, Dawkins' actions can potentially still be considered criminal because of the harm that he allegedly caused.

The standard used to measure this is that of a reasonable person in like circumstances. It's fairly common knowledge that igniting anything near a gas pump could lead to danger. Prosecutors will likely argue that a person in a similar situation should have known better.

Dawkins is set to be arraigned today, ABC News reports. His wife was released from the hospital last week.

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