Teen loses thumb to fireworks

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News 12 First at Five, July 3, 2007

AUGUSTA, GA--The Fourth of July is a time for fireworks, and that can be dangerous for your children. A thirteen year old boy lost his right thumb Monday afternoon while playing with fireworks outside his home.

Firefighters say 13 year old Melvin Mithcell lit explosive fireworks while he was holding them, and the explosion went off in his hand. His grandmother, Carolyn Cobb, says he's still trying to cope with the loss of his right thumb.

"He can't believe he lost his thumb. He's still very shocked about it." She said.

It happened around 5:15 Monday evening at Furgol and East Cedar streets, right across from their home. Sgt. Franklin Williams got there right after it happened, and found the boy with a towel wrapped around his hand.

"He was in a lot of pain. You could see the facial expression, and he was in severe pain." Sgt. Williams said.

He says it's the worse fireworks-related injury he's seen in a long time: "Fireworks are...they're a lot more explosive than the ones in earlier days."

He says the more explosive they are, the more dangerous they are. And, the ones that crackle and pop are the ones that keep these trucks running round the clock around the Fourth of July.

Sergeant Williams says, in many cases, it's because this spark sends homes or businesses up in flames. But sometimes, the explosion doesn't hurt property. It hurts people.

"It's very upsetting. He got his finger...his thumb off. Very shocking." Said Mitchell's grandmother.

The fire department has some advice on how to do things the right way. First, make sure there is always an adult supervising. Second, it's a good idea to have some water nearby. Third, make sure there aren't any roofs nearby. And finally, pay close to the directions on the fireworks.

Here are some things you might not know about fire works. Between June 18th and July 18th 2005, firecrackers caused 26 percent of injuries, sparklers caused 17 percent, and rockets accounted for 17 percent of injuries seen emergency rooms across the country. During the same time period, about 45 percent of people injured from fireworks were children ages 14 years and younger.

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