A California man died at a July Fourth party when illegal fireworks exploded in his hand, city officials said.
The victim, who wasn’t immediately identified, had serious injuries when cops in Montebello responded to a home at about 6:30 p.m. Monday, city officials said in a statement.
Paramedics tried saving the man before he was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead from his extensive injuries.
A preliminary investigation revealed he was igniting a high-powered, mortar-type aerial firework that’s illegal in the city of Montebello when things went tragically wrong, city spokesman Michael Chee said.
“The victim apparently attempted to hold the device when the firework went off and caused severe trauma to his upper torso,” Chee said. “Initial findings indicate he personally brought the illegal fireworks to this private gathering with him.”
No other injuries were reported. The identity of the victim has not been released.
Aerial fireworks are prohibited in Montebello, as well as in Los Angeles County and throughout California.
“Residents were actively encouraged to report seeing illegal fireworks and to use common sense safety awareness when using ‘safe and sane’ fireworks,” Chee said. “This tragic accident and death was avoidable and serves as an unfortunate and grim reminder of the danger posed by illegal and high-power fireworks.”
The mortar-like device packed with gunpowder in a long tube was intended to be placed on the ground due to its “force of ejection,” Chee told CBS Los Angeles.
“We understand the individual may have been holding the device when it went off,” Chee said.
The man’s accidental death came as authorities cracked down on illegal fireworks across Southern California, where several shows were canceled after state officials launched an investigation into Exposhows Inc. in Kern County on suspicion of illegal activity, according to the Los Angeles Times.
State officials accused the pyrotechnics company of being unlicensed and in possession of fireworks with counterfeit state fire marshal seals, as well as homemade explosives, the newspaper reported Friday.
One of the victim’s neighbors, meanwhile, told NBC Los Angeles she was shaken in the aftermath of the deadly blast.
“This is so sad, this is so sad, to lose your life because of illegal fireworks,” the unidentified woman told the station.
Other neighbors told CBS Los Angeles that illegal fireworks dominated Independence Day in Montebello and beyond.
“It’s everywhere, Pico Rivera, Montebello,” David Luna told the outlet. “I mean, it’s crazy.”
Other residents said they never had any issues with the people who lived at the home.
“I’m terribly sorry this happened, but you learn a lesson,” Montebello resident Sherman Lim told CBS Los Angeles. “It’s a horrible cost.”
An 11-year-old Indiana boy also died over the July Fourth holiday weekend after being seriously injured Sunday while playing with fireworks, state police and relatives said.