Devon Staples, 22, of Maine/Florida died after a fireworks mortar exploded on his head. This year there have been a lot of firework related accidents. Folks having hands blown off, chunks of legs removed, and so forth.
There was another death but it was a little Black kid (12 year old Antonio Brade) so its not really getting as much attention as the strapping young Devon. By the way, this is going to be so all over the place. A roller coaster of opinions even.
As you can imagine there was drinking involved in this incident. Devon and his friends were blowing up fireworks when Devon placed one over his head. His brother Cody said “I was the first one who got there. There was no rushing him to the hospital. There was no Devon left when I got there. It was a freak accident...but Devon was not the kind of person who would do something stupid. He was the kind of person who would pretend to do something stupid to make people laugh...We're thinking he was just waving his lighter around just joking and he might have caught part of it and just lit it wrong. The pressure from the explosion that was supposed to be 50 feet in the air, exploded directly above his head. It did not take it off. It made a 'whump' sound, like a failed explosion.”
He added “He's not an idiot. If the thing had gone off right, it would have been fine, and we would have told him not to do anything that stupid again. We grew up in Maine and we grew up with access to a lot of fun stuff, and we had been in dangerous situations and we all walked away from those fine.” As someone that has lost a brother I can sympathize with him on that level only. But my brother died from a heart attack at 32, not drinking and playing with live explosives. I think people forget that that's what fireworks are. Hell, we had them banned her in Los Angeles when I was a kid. Before that it was explosion city on the 4th of July.
His mother, Kathleen Staples, wants stricter laws in place like training courses before people are allowed to use them. That will never happen. You can barely get guns handled properly in that manner. Fireworks weren't even made legal in Maine until just three years ago since 1949 so there will be a learning process meaning more people will have to get wrecked before things even out. “At least it'd be a little bit more than, 'Here you go.' That's an explosive. They didn't just hand me a license and put me in the car.” You don't need a license to drive a car to drive just as you don't need a permit to get a gun. This is one of those things where you don't care until it affects your life. Kathleen also believes that they thought the mortar was a dud which state fire marshal Joe Thomas disagrees with because it had been fired previously.
Meanwhile Devon's father is upset at how the media is painting his son. I haven't read anything that has come out and bashed him. Its being reported as “guy worked at Disneyland, guy drank, put firework on head, died.” I have too much respect for explosives, my face, and life to ever put a firework near my face let alone a fucking mortar. That thing is fucking huge. When I was little we had fireworks but they just shot sparks and screamed. They didn't leave the ground. And when one didn't work it was stared at for a few minutes or sprayed with water because fuck taking chances.
Could this have been prevented? Of course. You can, and the family will, blame firework regulations. That doesn't bring anyone back to life. Maybe blame the alcohol. Why didn't anyone say it was a bad idea to get drunk and shoot off fireworks? Yeah, millions of people likely do it each year and a few get hurt but that doesn't mean it is fool proof. This is the kind of death that makes you angry for longer because it is such a stupid way to die and did not need to happen. This guy could still be alive right now if he hadn't made a bad decision and I would be writing about Bill Cosby admitting to drugging women.