Newark man sustains life-threatening injuries after illegal firework accident

NEWARK, Calif. (KGO) -- The word goes out every year about the hazards of illegal fireworks. But it's too late for a young man who suffered major injuries when a device went off in his hand in front of others who were setting off fireworks in a Newark neighborhood on the Fourth of July.

Residents on Port Sailwood Drive knew something bad had happened when they heard one very loud bang.

The evidence is scattered all over the street, remnants of fireworks. Residents say people were setting them off all evening but just after 10:30 p.m., there was an explosion.

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"We just heard a loud boom. It was just the loudest one of the night. And we didn't think much of it. It startled everyone, but we found out he was hurt pretty bad," resident Dante Baines said.

Video shot by a neighbor shows an 18-year-old man who had suffered severe damage to his left hand and burns on his body.

Two Newark police officers on fireworks patrol happened to be driving by. "He was bleeding out a lot, so one of the lieutenants actually put a tourniquet on his arm. They summoned the fire department and they were able to stabilize him. He was later transported to a local trauma center," Newpark Police Dept. Capt. Chomnan Loth said.

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One man acknowledged it happened in the street in front of his house, but he wouldn't identify the man who was hurt or provide any details.

Police say it was a large explosive. "It was a mortar aerial round, where you typically put it into a tube. And it shoots up into the air and explodes, which is usually the most dangerous type because it can catch fire and, again, it could explode at any time, causing these types of injuries," Loth said.

The victim is expected to survive, although his injuries are extensive. While safe and sane fireworks are legal in Newark, the illegal ones can be potentially lethal.

"They just think it's an exciting night, and let's do what we can do and make the loudest noises that we can make," resident Heidi Bischoff said.

When asked how smart she thinks they are, Bischoff responded, "Not smart enough, apparently."

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