Fireworks annually dazzle crowds on the Fourth of July, but handling the explosives proved deadly in Calais, Maine, on the national holiday when a 22-year-old man died after he launched fireworks from the top of his head despite the pleas of friends.
Devon Staples had been drinking with his friends and family when he first threatened to launch the reloadable fireworks mortar tube off of himself. His friends quickly tried to dissuade him and thought they had. However, after they returned back to their celebration, Staples ignited the explosives and died instantly, reports The Washington Post.
“It was a freak accident. … 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,” explained Staples’ older brother to The Washington Post.
His death is the first fireworks-related fatality in Maine since the state legalized the use of fireworks on private property in 2012, according to Yahoo News.
As a result of her son’s sudden death, Kathleen Staples is now advocating for stricter controls over fireworks. Likening fireworks to items such as cars and guns, Staples is urging for better safety training with the explosives.
"At least it'd be a little bit more than, 'Here you go,'" Staples said to Yahoo News. "That's an explosive. They didn't just hand me a license and put me in the car."
While Democratic Rep. Michel Lajoie is considering a measure to repeal the fireworks law in Maine, there is much opposition from retailers.
Moreover, a ban on fireworks won’t necessarily stop such tragedies, explained Lajoie.
"They're going to say, 'Well, you can't regulate stupidity' ... and it's true, you can't. But the fact of the matter is you have to try something," the representative told Yahoo News. "I'm not giving up."
In 2014, there were 11 fireworks-related deaths reported by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, according to The Washington Post.
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