Man's hand blown off in fireworks accident

July 6, 2010 9:45:00 PM PDT
A young man lost his left hand and a chunk of his thigh after two powerful firecrackers exploded in his pocket at a Fourth of July party in Oakland.

The explosion left nothing for surgeons to try and reattach. In fact, the impact also broke two bones in 19-year-old Josh Meyer's arm.

It all started Monday night at a crowded neighborhood Fourth of July party in front of his friend's house. The skies over East Oakland were exploding with illegal fireworks and Myers was taking part in the festivities when he realized a floating ember had ignited the bottle rockets in his back pocket. The flames quickly spread to his front left pocket where he had two illegal M-1000s.

"One is equivalent to a quarter stick of dynamite," he said. "I had two, so it's about a half stick."

Myers says he only had enough time to push a 2-year-old girl away from him, then fall on the ground and cover his pocket with his hand.

"And I remember feeling the first explosion and it was instant, you couldn't hear anything. Blinding light. But most of all it was deafening, like I still have a little trouble hearing," he said. "At first I didn't think I lost my hand. I thought I just took a pretty bad blow. But then I ended up looking and I was like, yeah, I saw it. My hand was gone."

Myers says he likely prevented the little girl from being killed or seriously injured because her face was at the same level as his pocket.

"If he had pulled it out of his pocket and threw it anywhere it would have landed in crowds of people or into their face," said witness Roger Watkins.

"The 2-year-old baby, she got a chunk blown out of her leg," said witness Demetrios "Mo" Paxinos. "She had stitches inside and outside of her leg. But it would have been a lot worse."

Myers says he bought the illegal M-1000 fireworks from a guy on the street for $10 each.

His dreams of being a Marine have been dashed. He says he was going to join in September.

"It took away my dream, which was to join the United States Marine Corps and defend my country, but the thought that just keeps going through my head is it's better me than that little girl," he said.

For clarification, while M-1000s pack a powerful explosion, it may not be equivalent to a quarter-stick of dynamite. This comparison is debatable.


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