Drunk Man Blows Fireworks Off Head, Drops Dead On 4th Of July

A 22-year-old man is dead after setting off a fireworks mortar that was strapped to his head. Devon Staples, a resident of Calais, Maine, was reportedly drinking with friends on the 4th of July when he decided to pull a stunt that cost him his life.

Stephen McCausland, a Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman, tells CBS News that the man was drinking and setting off fireworks in the backyard of his friend's home on Saturday night. At approximately 10 p.m., Staples launched the fireworks off his head and died instantly in front of his friends.

Staple's death is the first fireworks-related death since the fireworks were legalized in Maine two years ago. It is not known if the mortar tube the man blew off his head was on the list of legal consumer pyrotechnics or not.

Maine law states that missile-type rockets, aerial spinners, sky rockets, and bottle rockets are approved for consumer use if the tubes do not contain more than 20 grams of chemical composition. There are a variety of consumer-approved mortar tube kits sold nationwide at fireworks retailers like Phantom Fireworks.

Although more powerful fireworks mortars — M-80s, quarter sticks, and cherry bombs — are not on the state-approved list, they continue to be sold illegally in the U.S. According to CBS News, a Chicago man was arrested last week for the possession of — and intent to sell — more than 1,900 pounds of illegal fireworks, including boxes full of "Silver Salute" and "Threat to Society" explosives.

According to the National Fire Safety Protection Association, two out of five fires on Independence Day are caused by fireworks, and the estimated number of injuries during the holiday weekend is well into the thousands, with nine deaths associated with consumer pyrotechnics in 2014.

Although Devon Staples died after setting fireworks off of his head, Time reports that it's not always the person lighting the fireworks who ends up dead. Last year, two of the nine people who died in fireworks-related accidents were bystanders who did not light the fatal fireworks.

[Image: David McNew/Getty Images News]