Calais, Maine native Devon Staples is dead thanks to a fireworks stunt gone horribly wrong. The 22-year-old was killed instantly after he placed "a [reloadable] fireworks mortar tube on his head and set it off". The Bangor Daily reports that the accident occurred on Saturday at a party in a friend's backyard. The time of the incident was around 10 p.m.
The deceased man's brother, Cody Staples, was only five feet away when the nightmarish scene played out.
"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."
"When [Devon Staples] suggested he was going to do this, his friends gathered around him, and they thought they had convinced him not to do it."
Whatever Staples' intentions were, the reloadable fireworks mortar on his head was lit, causing a fatal explosion. The death of Staples is the first since fireworks were made legal to purchase in the state of Maine in 2012. The Bangor Daily writes that several other people in the area were apparently hospitalized for injuries related to 4th of July festivities.
Such a situation isn't that surprising; hundreds, if not thousands of people are hospitalized each year for fireworks-related accidents. The National Fire Protection Association claims that, in 2012 alone, such incidents sent as many as 8,700 Americans to the hospital.
The death of Devon is an example of why organizations like the NFPA actively oppose fireworks being sold to and handled by consumers. Too often, fireworks are handled by persons who are irresponsible and drunk, which leads to unnecessary harm -- if not death.
If there is any lesson to be taken from the unfortunate death of Devon Staples, it's that fireworks are not toys. Even trained professionals can sometimes run into trouble with these explosive products. Just because the items sold to consumers are often less powerful doesn't render them entirely harmless.
[Image Credit: Devon Staples/Facebook]