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Hit-and-run driver sparks gas station explosion in San Bernardino

The 76 station on N. Del Rosa Avenue in San Bernardino.
The 76 station on N. Del Rosa Avenue in San Bernardino. Google Street View

Ever drive off with the gas nozzle still in the tank? This blows that away.

At a 76 station in San Bernardino on Sunday, a man rammed his car into a gas pump -- nearly running someone over in the process -- and sparked an explosion that sent people scurrying in every direction. Then he took off in a big hurry himself.

The entire incident was caught on film by the station’s surveillance cameras. KCAL9 has the video here.

The station, located just off the 210 freeway on N. Del Rosa Avenue, was apparently having a normal, peaceful evening before Phillip McCowan showed up at little after 6 p.m.

He visited the convenience store, then got back in his car -- and everything went crazy.

Video shows the car lurching into reverse, bending the driver’s-side door completely off against a post. It then smashes into a pump and explodes. (Confusingly, the video seems to show two people in the car, but the reports we saw only mention McCowan.)

As for McCowan, he told the gas station owner and customers (through a KCAL reporter) that he’s sorry. He panicked, is basically what happened -- though he did admit to having “a couple beers” sometime before the crash. He also suffered a gash on his ankle, though he was able to walk home after leaving his burning, twisted car behind at the station, according to the Press-Enterprise.

The District Attorney’s Office has not yet decided whether it will press felony hit-and-run charges.

Aside from McCowan’s ankle, there were no injuries.

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