A New Jersey man was critically injured on Sunday after a mortar firework went off prematurely while still in his hands, according to authorities.
The 23-year-old was found semi-conscious and bleeding from his head by responding police officers and EMS units just before 1 a.m., the Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department said in a news release.
Witnesses said he’d been lighting a mortar firework, which is a shell firework put into a tube and fired off, when it exploded early in his hands.
He suffered injuries to his head and hands, and was airlifted to Cooper Trauma Center in Camden in critical condition.
“This tragic incident provides a potent reminder to our community that illegal fireworks can be dangerous and unpredictable and should only be used by licensed, trained professionals,” the department said.
Hand-held sparklers, ground-based sparklers and other similar novelty items are legal in New Jersey, but firecrackers, bottle rockets, shells, mortars and aerial displays are illegal, and violators face up to a $1,000 fine.
The state was lit up by fireworks over the July 4 holiday weekend, and in nearby Barnegat, police said fireworks “had the greater Ocean County area looking like Magic Kingdom” on Saturday night.
The Barnegat Police Department said that from July 1 through midnight on July 4, it responded to 64 fireworks complaints, compared to just one over the same stretch of time in 2019.
Col. Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police told NorthJersey.com that there were six serious and three minor fireworks-related injuries across the state over the weekend.
At least one person was killed, though it remains unclear whether that person was included in the injuries statistics.
The victim, a 33-year-old Jersey City man, died after he was struck in the chest by a firework early Saturday, the outlet reported.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, a 63-year-old man died of “extensive head trauma” after he was struck by fireworks, while a man in Washington, D.C. died on Friday after he lit a firework and held it over his head, the Washington Post reported.
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