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Boy hurt in Lake Lanier boat explosion finally home, sister remains in hospital

Gunner Coleman's football family surprised him Tuesday, two days after his return from the hospital. They all wore "Coleman Strong" shirts.

SUWANEE, Ga. — Gunner Coleman is back home after being severely burned in a Lake Lanier boat explosion on Mother's Day. Now, he's recovering with his family, beloved dogs, classmates and friends.

Gunner's football family surprised him Tuesday afternoon, two days after the 13-year-old returned home from the hospital. They all wore "Coleman Strong" t-shirts.

"I was expecting a couple of people to come over eventually, but I was definitely not expecting this," he said. "It's nice to see everybody here. It's really good."

What he's thankful for? The nurses who helped him get back on his feet (literally -- he is already able to walk!). What he missed? His dogs, home-cooked meals and a comfortable space to sleep.

"It's a lot more comfortable [here] than sitting in a hospital bed," he said. "The recliners weren't comfortable either but it was better than sitting in the bed."

Credit: Provided

The explosion occurred while the family was fueling up the boat at a gas dock. Gunner and his sister, Taylor, had to be airlifted after the incident.

Gunner's younger brother, Ryder, and their parents, Steve and Annie, were also on the boat at the time.

Credit: Provided

"It just completely exploded and it blew up the glass and blew out the sliding glass door," recalled 12-year-old Ryder. "It was very loud and it was like a fast explosion. We jumped in the water and then the second flames went out two seconds later I'd say. Those were really big."

Taylor is still in the hospital, with the North Gwinnett friends and family waiting for her to come home.

"We are praying for her and we are supporting them 100% as well," said a community member.

"We are hoping Taylor starts healing up as quickly as Gunner has," added Steve Coleman.

Taylor's good friend, 16-year-old Lachlan McIntyre slept over the night before and says she was supposed to go on the boat ride had it not been Mother's Day. She says she misses her friend, dearly.

"I was calling her and texting her and she wasn't answering and then I called Ryder on Snapchat and he didn't answer," she recalled. "I was like, okay? So I just went home." 

She found out what had happened the next morning from other friends.

"I thought they were joking or someone was mixed up," she said.

Credit: Provided
Taylor with Lachlan's family

Gunner will be doing physical therapy, especially to improve his hand movements, and hopes to be even better by July 4th. He says his left arm got burned worse than the rest of his body.

"You know how basketball players, some of them wear sleeves? I have to wear those all over my body but it'll go by fast," Gunner said. "I'll get used to it. I just hope this will make me stronger."

His football coach Jevaughn Gist, along with his teammates and friends he has made since his family moved here were present Tuesday.

"The Gunner Coleman family joined the North Gwinnett family last season," said Gist, while addressing the big turnout at the Coleman household. "There's been an unfortunate accident but our family has pulled together. We wanted to bring everybody here today to show how much we support you, how much we support your family."

Their goal was to put a smile on Gunner's face. There were many moments where he flashed a smile, and talked about how appreciative he is.

"Thank you," Gunner said to everyone in the room. "This has been a lot of help and its really good encouragement. I'm happy to be home. Happy to be walking again, too."

The investigation on what happened that day is still under investigation.

"The gas tank exploded and the Lake Lanier people took the boat but they still don't know what's going on," said Gunner. "Neither does the insurance company. It passed the inspection before it was ever turned on."

"Mother's Day... it's not going to be a good day anymore," said Ryder. "I feel lucky. I was sitting right in front of the boat, Taylor was right next to the engine, so was Gunner. I was not near the explosion."

Family friends have shown up since the day of the accident, setting up a fundraising page for the Colemans.

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