Devon Staples, the man famous for performing Gaston at Walt Disney World, died while launching a firework off his head over the Fourth of July weekend.
Stephen McCausland, spokesperson for the Main Department of Public Safety, said that Devon Staples of Calais, Maine, was shooting fireworks with his friends on Saturday, July 4 in the backyard. Staples placed a reloaded mortar tube firework on his head and set it off. He died immediately, according to McCausland.
“Apparently, he thought that it was a great idea. His friends said that they thought they had dissuaded him from doing it, and the next thing they knew, he ignited the fireworks and he was killed immediately.”
According to police, Devon and his friends were drinking alcohol that night. The 22-year-old’s brother, Cody Staples, told the New York Daily News that Devon held a lighter, which accidentally set off the firework. He also noted that Devon’s death was a “freak accident” and doesn’t believe that the man intended to light the firework on his head.
“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.”
Even Kathleen Staples spoke out about her son’s death. She told CBS Boston that she wished she was at the party so she could save him. Kathleen said that Devon would have never placed a firework on his head if he knew it would explode. She believes that he thinks the firework was a dud, which is why he jokingly it on his head.
“That would’ve been suicide. I can’t see a happy boy wanting to destroy himself. He believed it was a dud, he stuck it over his head and he was goofing off.”
Kathleen also noted that Devon was drinking at the party. She wants Devon’s death to be a reminder to all young adults that drinking and shooting fireworks can make for a deadly situation.
“I spent 22 years keeping that boy safe. Do not drink, you need to have a designated sober person that is making life and death decisions with these feelings.”
Devon’s older brother, Christopher Staples, spoke to the Boston Herald’s Jack Encarnacao about his brother’s death. According to Christopher, Devon just wanted to put a smile on people’s faces.
“He just wanted everybody to be happy. He worked at Disney for a while and he loved that. If he had some sick kid come in, he would always brag if he got him to smile or if he made their day better. He wanted to be a dog trainer. He liked working with dogs.”
Later, it was revealed that Staples previously worked at Walt Disney World as the Beauty and the Beast character Gaston. Staples lived in Orlando and worked as a performer at Walt Disney World, according to a previous report in the New York Daily News.
Devon Staples’ death is the first fireworks-related fatality since Maine legalized fireworks in 2012. Back in late June, a 47-year-old Michigan man died in front of his family during a similar fireworks incident. It’s also likely that alcohol was a factor in the man’s death, according to a previous report on USA Today. Like Devon, the man died instantly when he placed a firework mortar tube near his head.
[Image obtained from Devon Staples’ Facebook page]