What was once a story of a tragic death has now turned into something utterly ridiculous that could only happen in modern America. Over the Fourth of July weekend, a man in Maine did the unthinkable while drunk: He set off a firecracker mortar from his head. Predictably, that led to immediate death. The Blaze reports,
Devon Staples and his friends had been drinking and setting off fireworks Saturday night in the backyard of a friend’s home in the small eastern Maine city of Calais, said Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. Staples, 22, of Calais, placed a fireworks mortar tube on his head and set it off, he said.
The firework exploded, killing Staples instantly, McCausland said.
His death is the first fireworks fatality in Maine since the state legalized fireworks on Jan. 1, 2012, authorities said.
Staples’ brother, Cody, told the New York Daily News that the incident was a freak accident when the lighter Staples was holding caused the firework to go off.
“I was the first one who got there. There was no rushing him to the hospital. There was no Devon left when I got there,” Cody, 25, said. “It was a freak accident … But 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.”
Initially, my first reaction was this: “This poor family not only has to deal with the loss of a young man, but now has to put up with the world mocking the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his death.” That was until his mother stepped up and suggested legislation that would prevent something similar from ever happening. The Week reports on her request,
Police say that on the 4th of July, Devon Staples, 22, was drinking with friends in the town of Calais when the accident happened with a mortar tube. In the wake of her son’s death, Kathleen Staples wants to see lawmakers consider requiring safety training courses before letting someone use fireworks. “At least it’d be a little bit more than, ‘Here you go,'” she told The Associated Press. “That’s an explosive. They didn’t just hand me a license and put me in the car.”
Incidentally, his mother’s version of events differs from that of his brother. The Week stated the accident happened because “her son might have thought the explosive was a ‘dud’ that wouldn’t hurt him.”
As anyone in cities like Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York or Chicago can tell you, legislation can only go so far. Despite strict gun control laws in those cities, criminals always manage to get their hands on guns. Having grown up in a place where fireworks are illegal but plentiful, I can attest this is another instance in which those who want the product will not necessarily bat an eye at breaking the law to obtain it.
Would it have taken a safety course to instruct this young man that a mortar on one’s head around a lit match is inadvisable at best?
Comment below: Do you think a law requiring safety training for fireworks would have prevented this death?