As families prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, one man is still recovering at the hospital after handling a firework nearly cost him his life.
Neighbors in a Pompano Beach apartment complex say the 41-year old man was visiting his son at 350 NW 10th St., preparing for the festivities at the end of the week, when they heard a frightening sound Sunday evening.
“It was like a bomb exploded. That’s all I heard,” described one neighbor.
“His hand was blown off. He was screaming, he was in pain,” said Okson Francois, a man who stepped in to help the victim.
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The Broward Sheriff’s Office said Shanard Saxon was altering a golf ball-sized mortar in the bathroom of the apartment, when the firework appears to have accidentally detonated.
"Maybe he wanted to make it bigger, better or combine it with something," BSO spokesman Mike Jachles said.
The blast claimed his hand, which had to be amputated past the wrist.
The BSO said the victim’s wife was in the apartment with him. The explosion could have very well put others in the apartment complex in harm’s way.
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Francois said he was driving by when he saw the commotion. He waited with Saxon until paramedics arrived. The man frantically ran from the apartment door all the way to the sidewalk, screaming, Francois said.
"I had two guys holding his hands to hold the pressure, until paramedics came," said Francois.
The BSO said it confiscated several thousands dollars’ worth of fireworks that Saxon had in his possession. They were described as being the kind you can purchase at roadside stands or brick and mortar stores. But just because you can purchase them, doesn’t make them all legal.
"In the state of Florida, if it makes a boom or if it takes off, or becomes airborne – that’s a firework. That's illegal," Jachles said.
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There are loopholes. State law indicates fireworks are OK for agricultural uses. They can be purchased to scare birds away from farms or from fish hatcheries. And the public often gets its hands on fireworks by signing waivers indicating they will be used for such purposes.
"People are very fascinated by fireworks. They continue to use them, however when things go wrong, they go wrong very fast," Jachles said.
He said this is a reminder for families to be safe this holiday, and that the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a professional fireworks show.
The victim is listed in good condition at Broward Health North.
It is unclear if he will face any charges. The case is under investigation.
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