Hell Off The Beach

I haven’t been “down the shore” in quite some time, even though some beachgoers have been having quite a blast this year:

A loud boom knocked a Rhode Island beachgoer out of her chair on Saturday. The blast at Salty Brine beach in Narragansett [sic] was so strong that Kathleen Danise was hurled from her beach chair near the water line and thrown against a rock jetty 10 feet away.  She suffered two fractured ribs and numerous bruises.  Witnesses that morning said they heard a rumbling and loud bang that sounded like a large firecracker, a grenade or a gas explosion, and noticed a sulfur or butane smell.

However …

The blast left behind a furrow in the sand and little else.  State Police Col. Steven G. O’Donnell said there was no physical evidence of an explosion, such as charring or debris. Dogs and chemical swipes detected no explosive residue. Officials also determined there was no natural gas line running underneath.  Scientists noted that methane explosions sometimes occur in nature, but pointed out that it is typically in places like swamps or areas in the Arctic that produce high levels of methane. “I’ve never heard of a methane explosion on the beach,” said Stephen Porder, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University.

It’s surprising, given the beach’s location –between Jerusalem and Galilee, RI– that two or three additional hypotheses haven’t been publicly discussed.  Perhaps they’re considered too outlandishly improbable:

  • An uninvited appearance by Ol’ Scratch himself.  Loud bang.  Sulphurous odor.  Human hurled headlong into the abyss.  Just what you’d expect from Satan, Lucifer, or whatever you prefer to call him. It’s enough to make a believer out of almost anyone.


  • A sonic cannon, aka Long Range Acoustic Device. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have been using this technology in the Caribbean for more than a decade –to knock out the engines on drug smugglers’ go-fast boats. The device certainly has the capability to knock a middle-aged woman out of her beach chair. And guess what? The Naval Undersea Warfare Center is right around the corner from Point Judith, in Newport, RI.  Just the place where you’d expect to find ongoing research into maritime applications of near-lethal weaponry.


So was some bored swab-jockey or Coastie in Block Island Sound tempted to have a little harmless fun on Saturday afternoon?  Did he impulsively aim that LRAD at the shore and tap that big red button?  We’ll probably never know.  But when ONI finally comes to investigate, he can always claim in his defense: “The devil made me do it!

  • Or perhaps he can point the finger at shadowy figures lurking in the shrubbery: angry Mossad agents incensed by Team Obama’s Iran nuclear deal. After all, according to the Biblical legend of Judith,

… a daring and beautiful widow is angry with her Jewish countrymen for not trusting God to deliver them from the invading forces of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Nineveh and Assyria. She goes to the camp of the enemy general, Holofernes, with whom she slowly ingratiates herself, promising him information on the Israelites. Gaining his trust, she is allowed access to his tent one night. She decapitates him, then takes his head back to her fearful countrymen. The Assyrians, having lost their leader, disperse, and Israel is saved.

Hebrew versions of the Book of Judith place its events in the Hellenistic period when the Maccabees battled the Seleucid monarchs.

Take your pick of these three improbable hypotheses, or conjure up a few of your own.  It’s a great way to while away the hours during a rainy day at the beach.


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