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Young woman survives car explosion at gas station

November 16, 2010 2:21:54 PM PST
A young woman from Long Island talked to Eyewitness News about her near-death experience when her car exploded at a gas station after another car hit a pump.

"I panicked, I froze, and I thought, I'm going to die right now," Kristen Chmura said.

Chmura recalled her worst Halloween on record.

Her 2004 Acura went up in flames, exploding at a gas pump.

It was a terrifying event that has left the 18-year-old traumatized.

She says she can't stop reliving the nightmare.

"When I have flashbacks of looking at and feeling the fire next to me, I'm thinking that, this is it, I'm not going to get out of here alive," Chmura said.

It was the middle of the afternoon when Chmura pulled into the Gulf gas station on Sunrise Highway in Massapequa.

She was about to get out of her car to get gas when the driver of another car slammed into the pump, which ignited.

"The pump was in my car, and all of a sudden it just went up in flames, and I froze for a minute, and that's when I thought I was going to die, no one was going to get to me in time," Chmura said. "I became, like, terrified because I saw the flames and you could feel the heat coming through the window."

Realizing it was a race against time, she jumped over the console and escaped through the passenger side.

"I ran away from my car, and after I got out I looked back and my car was in flames," she said. "If I had waited any longer, I probably wouldn't have been able to get out."

Chmura has filed a lawsuit against the driver of the other vehicle, as well as the gas station, because at the time of the accident the sprinkler system failed.

"This could have been a real significant catastrophe that likely could have been prevented had there been the sprinklers at the station working," said Ken Mollins, Chmura's attorney.

"It kind of gives you a different outlook on life, like I thought that was it and I'm lucky now that I'm still alive," Chmura said.

The owner of the gas station admits it was a technical problem that stopped the sprinkler system from activating.

Chmura suffered minor injuries, but says her emotional scars will last a lifetime.

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