REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — The Ohio Fire Marshal's Office is investigating several gruesome fireworks accidents over the Independence Day holiday.
Acting Fire Marshal Jeff Hussey said, one man lost a hand in Fulton County and another person suffered serious head and facial injuries in Butler County on Tuesday night. In Central Ohio, a worker was badly hurt at a public firework show in Jeffersonville. That exhibit was shut down about 20 minutes after it began and before the finale.
No citizens were injured.
Keith Krile, 33 of Lancaster was taken by medical helicopter to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center where he has had two surgeries on his leg and is being treated for burns. Krile was trained as a registered assistant and had worked for his company for a decade.
Ken Sprague, owner of Hamburg Fireworks, said he talked with Krile on Wednesday morning and Krile is in a lot of pain. Sprague said he is sorry to hear one of his best workers got hurt during the Jeffersonville exhibit. Sprague said workers are trained annually to make sure that not only the public is safe when they watch fireworks but all our employees are safe.
"Krile doesn't do this for the money. He has got tattoos of fireworks on his chest. That is how much he loves fireworks; he would have put my logo there if I wanted him to. That is how much he loves it," said Sprague.
Hussey said incidents at commercial fireworks exhibits are rare because workers are trained and licensed. But something went wrong in Jeffersonville caused the tube to fail and the charge to come out of the bottom.
"I think this accident in Jeffersonville shows you the potential dangers associated with commercial grade fireworks, they really are an explosive and even trained professional can have things go wrong," said Hussey.
Sprague hopes Krile will return to his fireworks job and be a part of something that is risky, but that so many love. "That is one of their reasons why people like to be a part of it. When the show is over and the finale is done and everybody is applauding that made it all worthwhile," said Sprague.
Hamburg, located in Lancaster, has been operating as a family business since 1972 and has reported no serious accidents during that time. Sprague said they are checking their products being used in upcoming shows over the next several days to make sure they are safe. Hamburg employs more than 250 workers during the holiday season and they do about a hundred shows.
Man recovering following July 4 fireworks accident in Jeffersonville
By Ryan Carter - firstname.lastname@example.org
A Lancaster man injured by a malfunctioning shell during the annual July 4 fireworks show in Jeffersonville Tuesday night is recovering from ankle surgery at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Approximately 16 minutes into the show at the old elementary school site, a loud boom heard close to the ground interrupted the festivities and caused confusion among the large crowd. Shortly after the explosion, members of the Jeffersonville Fire Department and Fayette County EMS responded to the scene.
Keith L. Krile, 33, was transported from the scene by medical helicopter to OSU for treatment after he was struck in the ankle.
Four individuals, including Krile, were in charge of the fireworks show Tuesday night. Jason Retherford, 43, of Ashville, Ohio, also suffered minor injuries from the explosion, according to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office report. No other injuries were reported.
“There was an incident involving a shell during the show,” said Ken Sprague, president of Hamburg Fireworks Displays, Inc., a Lancaster-based fireworks company that’s contracted by the Jeffersonville Celebration committee for the fireworks show. “Unfortunately there was a malfunction when they were lighting it on the ground. A fragment from the mortar that launches the shell hit Keith.”
On Wednesday, Sprague said he spoke to Krile, who said he’s doing well following the ankle surgery.
“It’s very fortunate that he’s okay,” Sprague said. “Our company is always very conscientious when it comes to public safety and the safety of our employees. But you’re dealing with explosive devices that are hand-made by human beings, so there is always a chance that something can go wrong.”
Following the explosion, the show was cancelled before the grand finale display.
“At that point, we thought it was in everyone’s best interests to postpone until July 4 next year,” said Sprague.