The recent 4th of July festivities in and around Hendersonville were a smashing success for most residents and their guests. But for one 25-year-old man, fireworks proved to be a deadly form of entertainment.
At approximately 10 p.m. on the evening of July 3, the Salem, Indiana, resident was shooting off fireworks with friends at an undisclosed location on Dixon Road No. 2.
A deputy coroner with the Henderson County Coroner's Office told a local media outlet that as the Indiana man bent over to light one firework, it exploded prematurely.
Legal doesn't necessarily mean safe
The large, but legal, ordnance — designed to explode upon reaching its apogee about 100 feet off the ground — caught the man full in his chest, causing instant cardiac arrest.
First responders were summoned and transported the victim to Methodist Hospital. However, at 11:04 p.m., physicians pronounced him dead. According to the deputy coroner, his cause of death was preliminarily listed as "blunt force trauma."
The Henderson County Coroner spoke candidly of the freak accident, stating, "I haven't ever heard of anything like this happening here." The man's body was scheduled for a full autopsy to be done in Louisville following the Independence Day holiday.
The results of that autopsy are unknown at this time.
Little oversight to fireworks from overseas
While it is not known where the fireworks were made that the man and his friends were setting off that night, fireworks imported from China and other overseas countries are not subjected to the same strict manufacturing controls as products made here in the United States are.
The Kentucky Fire Commission's executive director said after the man's tragic death, "Safety should be top priority when dealing with explosives you have little to no control over."
Firework accident statistics
The National Fire Protection Association reported that in 2013, emergency rooms across America provided treatment to roughly 11,400 individuals for injuries from fireworks.
In 2014, over half of these injuries involved the arms, legs, hands and feet. Another 38 percent injured victims' heads. Those at highest risk of injuries from fireworks were kids 4 and younger. The second-highest at-risk group was comprised of tweens and teens ages 10 to 14.
Minimize the risk with the following safety tips
Although it's too late for this summer's victim here in Kentucky, before you know it, the holiday season and New Year's Eve will be upon us — another festive season often celebrated by the popping of fireworks.
The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these tips to keep consumers of all ages safe around fireworks.
- Read the directions on the fireworks' labels before igniting.
- Understand each firework's capabilities and expected performance to reduce the frequency of accidents.
- Comply with local and state laws regarding firework usage.
- Don't set off fireworks when impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.
- Ensure that a responsible adult supervises the popping of fireworks.
- Don't let kids play with fireworks.
- Only light single fireworks; never ignite bundles or linked ordnance.
If you or your children get injured by a malfunctioning firecracker, you may have a cause of action to seek legal redress via the Kentucky civil court system.