People on a boat who were allegedly harassing a family flying LGBTQ pride flags on their vessel had to be rescued on Sunday evening after their watercraft burst into flames on Moses Lake in Washington state.
According to video of the incident, which has gone viral on TikTok and Twitter, the boaters “harassed and spun circles” around the family’s boat “after they saw [their] pride flags].”
It is not clear from the video what led up to the incident, but a woman in the other boat makes inappropriate gestures to the family with the pride flags.
Sheriff Tom Jones said deputies and the local fire department responded to the scene, where they extinguished the flames and towed the scorched boat to shore.
Jones said they do not yet know what caused the fire, but that deputies on scene were told it came from the engine compartment in the middle of the boat.
“The passengers from the boat that caught fire swam and boarded the boat they were circling,” said Jones. “Our agency has reached out to the owner of the boat with the gay pride flag to gather further information to determine of a crime was committed. To this hour, we have not heard from them.”
The doomed boat owner and one other passenger received burns but refused medical treatment, he said.
These people harassed my family because we were flying gay pride flags in Moses Lake Washington, by racing around us and shouting gay slurs. Then, their boat literally blew up! #KarmaIsReal pic.twitter.com/cN7L74pHS6
— 🏳️⚧️ℂ𝕠𝕤𝕞𝕚𝕔 ℝ𝕠𝕓𝕓𝕚𝕖⭐ (@retro_ushi_) May 31, 2021
Here's part 2 everyone!!! pic.twitter.com/papG8wGULL
— 🏳️⚧️ℂ𝕠𝕤𝕞𝕚𝕔 ℝ𝕠𝕓𝕓𝕚𝕖⭐ (@retro_ushi_) June 1, 2021
Speaking to Buzzfeed, a passenger identified by his nickname, Robbie on the pride flag boat said he was on the vessel near Blue Heron Park with his girlfriend, his brother, and his brother’s partner flying multiple LGBTQ and transgender rights flags.
They then heard the other boat approaching and saw a woman on that vessel flip them off.
“Then the boat quickly made a sharp turn back towards us and went around us. I then again personally heard someone shout what I thought to be the word ‘gays’ so I asked my brother to pull out his phone and blatantly start recording in hopes that it would avoid conflict if they noticed,” said Robbie.
The other boat drove around them six or seven times, causing extensive waves, according to Robbie.
“They then attempted to speed away as they left a large cloud of smoke surrounding the area we occupied,” said Robbie. “After a moment, we heard a loud backfire and a sputter come from the boat. Though I could not see the boat, in the direction, I could see a cloud of black smoke rising quickly.”
“The driver, possibly embarrassed, then rushed to start the vehicle again… Another few moments pass and we hear an incredibly loud explosion come from the direction they were headed,” said Robbie. “Our driver shouted, ‘Holy crap! They blew up!'”
Robbie’s boat then went to the aid of the stricken vessel, rescuing the passengers from the water.