14 September 2023

'The luckiest man alive': The Lost Thong founder survives food truck explosion

| James Coleman
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The Lost Thong food truck on fire

The Lost Thong food truck explosion. Photo: Andrew Dale, Facebook.

CONTENT WARNING: This article contains an image that may distress some readers.

“I’m the luckiest man alive.”

Andrew Dale is staggered to have escaped with only burns after a gas explosion in one of his food trucks, The Lost Thong, on the South Coast on Sunday (10 September).

It was 11:25 am and the local identity had parked up in Batemans Bay near the Catalina Golf and Country Club.

He doesn’t usually have the hatch slightly open while preparing the menu boards for the day’s business, but he did that day. Customers also normally start queueing directly outside, but not then either. They were to the left of the van.

That’s when it suddenly “went bang”.

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“There was an explosion that I thought deafened me in my right ear but hasn’t,” he recalled on Facebook afterwards.

A large sauce bottle on the counter was shot 10 to 15 metres out of the van with a force that witnesses claim could be felt 400 metres away.

“I can’t believe that I walked out of it. No cuts, no blood, but a number of burns and a fair bit of singed hair, unfortunately, not the hair on my back.”

He has no idea what caused the explosion, except to say it wasn’t a gas bottle “because they’re stored outside”.

Andrew Dale burns

Andrew Dale suffered burns to his face and arm, but escaped worse. Photo: Andrew Dale, Facebook.

He was taken by helicopter to the Concorde Repatriation General Hospital in Sydney, but by Wednesday (13 September), he had been discharged and was on his way back to his Canberra home.

“I keep asking the universe why I’m here,” he says.

“I can’t put in words how lucky I am and how lucky no one else was to get hurt. That sauce bottle could have killed a kid.”

A GoFundMe page was set up for him by “long-time family friend” Jessie Zivkovic, asking locals to rally for a man who has himself “rallied behind the devastating 2019-2020 NSW fires and bought hope, peace, joy, food, clothes, courage and so much more to people who lost everything”.

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“Anyone that knows Andrew knows the type of man he is,” the description reads.

“Andrew is the founder of The G Spot food van in Canberra bringing amazing late-night food to 1000s of people from all over.

“He just continues to help lend a hand wherever he can no matter how great or small.

“He even took to social media while he was dealing with his personal fight with the Black Dog to share his journey to help anyone tackle their own mental health journey. He never stopped and he never gives up. A true champion!”

Andrew says he’s received “hundreds of messages” from concerned family members and friends.

“The amount of support I’ve been offered would rebuild Somalia”.

Andrew Dale

Andrew Dale outside The Lost Thong food truck. Photo: Andrew Dale, Facebook.

He’ll return to the burns unit at Concorde every Tuesday and Friday to have his dressings changed, at least until it can be arranged locally. He’s also under orders to keep his arm and face out of the sun for at least 12 months, so he is looking for a “sombrero”.

“I’ve got to make sure I can still play golf. I need to play golf.”

But above all, he’s thankful.

“I want to thank all the people and medical staff who poured water on me and helped me every step of the way.”

The explosion might mark the end of his food truck ventures, but he still has plans for ‘The Lost Thong’.

“Only the back kitchen part is written off – the rest of the truck is okay, so I’m probably going to put a mobile home on the back,” he says.

“There are more than 1500 golf courses in Australia, and if I played one every two days, it would take me 10 years. What a great way to travel around Australia.”

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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