It wasn't just dumb, it's also stupid and idiotic[size=+2]Man who tried to siphon gas knows it was 'dumb'[/size]
[font=helvetica, arial][size=-2]By SCOTT DAUGHERTY, Staff Writer[/size][/font] An 82-year-old man was "determined" and "bullheaded" last week when he tried to use a household vacuum cleaner to siphon gas from his car while the engine was still running, family members said. But he wasn't senile.
"He doesn't normally do foolish things," said Joy Backert, the man's daughter-in-law. "He definitely wasn't thinking when he did this. He definitely wasn't clear."
John William Backert, a retired boiler maker with Baltimore Gas and Electric, suffered burns to 20 percent of his body, primarily on the left side of his abdomen, chest, hands and face. He was released yesterday from the Bayview Burn Center in Baltimore.
"We've had a lot of talks," said Mrs. Backert, who lives with her father-in-law, husband, John William Backert Jr., and 10-year-old son in Glen Burnie. "He knows it's a dumb thing to have done."
Thursday morning, though, Mr. Backert put a lot of thought into how to stall his 1987 Dodge Diplomat. Mrs. Backert, who was on Kent Island that morning taking care of her mother, explained that her father-in-law had accidentally locked his keys in his car Wednesday night with the engine running. No one noticed until the next morning when his auto mechanic son, John Jr., woke up his father at 4 a.m. and told him to find his spare key and turn it off.
"He never even knew it was running," she said, explaining that the elder Mr. Backert is hard of hearing.
Assuming his dad would find a key, the younger Mr. Backert headed off to work. But three hours later, the elder Mr. Backert still hadn't found a key and was afraid the car would overheat if it wasn't shut off soon.
He showed his "safety-conscious" grandson off to school because he didn't want to alarm the boy with his next course of action, Mrs. Backert said. Her father-in-law proceeded to shove a potato into the tail pipe - only to have it pop out. Next, he tried to siphon the gas out with a hose, but couldn't get it to flow. Next, refusing to give up, Mr. Backert pulled out the family's Eureka floor vacuum.
"Breaking into the car was not one of the things he thought of," Mrs. Backert said.
"He's definitely a man of reason," added Tim Backert, one of the man's sons.
When the vacuum caught fire, Mr. Backert threw it aside - saving the car - and stopped, dropped and rolled.
"That's not a senile man," his daughter-in-law said.
Though Mr. Backert is out of the hospital and the Diplomat is still running, he won't be taking it out for a spin anytime soon. Mrs. Backert said he has a third-degree burn on his stomach that's not healing properly and that he needs insulin shots for his diabetes.
"He's going to want to go right outside," she said, explaining that he's always gardening and mowing the lawn. "He can do the work of two 20-year-olds."