A Bad Year for Fireworks Injuries in Tampa Bay

Thanks to evening storms that soaked Tampa Bay on the Fourth of July, many people have unused fireworks sitting around. If you’re one of them, you might be hoping to continue the American celebration throughout the weekend. But before you break out the leftover firecrackers and sparklers, let the accident and tragedies of this past Fourth of July serve as a sobering reminder to always be safe and responsible.

Even though the holiday was on a rainy Wednesday this year, people still partied hard. From Busch Gardens to the Pinellas beaches to neighborhood cul-de-sacs, there were dozens of opportunities to celebrate America. Unfortunately, though, not all these celebrations had happy endings.

Celebratory Gunfire Injures One

At Busch Gardens, a man was watching a fireworks display when he was hit by a stray bullet. His injuries were likely the result of celebratory gunfire from outside the theme park. Celebratory gunfire, while done as display of joy, can still have dangerous consequences. Bullets can travel farther and faster than expected, hitting bystanders or even random people.

In another instance of celebratory gunfire this Fourth of July, one woman discovered a bullet hole in the window of her car. Another returned to her apartment to find a hole in her ceiling and a projectile on her floor. Similar incidents of gunshot wounds have occurred in Tampa Bay over New Year’s Eve and Independence Day before, including a prior incident at Busch Gardens in 2015. Luckily, though, there were no fatalities from these examples of celebrations-gone-wrong.

Teen Killed in Fireworks Accident

Another incident from this Fourth of July, also in Tampa, ended with a fatality. A 16-year-old was shooting off fireworks with some other teens when a firework tube unexpectedly exploded in his hand. The sudden blast struck him in the chest, and he later passed away at Tampa General Hospital.

His death might seem like a freak accident, but fireworks fatalities are more common than you might think. According to a 2016 report by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 7 people died every year between 2001 and 2016 due to firework-related injuries. An additional 11,100 people were treated for injuries in 2016 . 61% of fireworks victim in 2016 were male, and 31% were under the age of 15. Burns were the most common injury, particularly burns to the face and upper extremities. Concussions, lacerations, and other kinds of bodily trauma also played a role in the hundreds of hospitalizations.

Fourth of July Injuries Across Florida

The 16-year-old in Tampa was the only fatality in Tampa Bay during this past Fourth of July. However, he wasn’t the only fireworks injury in Florida. In Lakeland, a man suffered injuries to his hands and chest after attempting to hold an ignited firework. Another man in Broward County lost part of his hand in a similar incident. A third man in Merritt Island lost two of his fingers in an accident on the day before the Fourth of July.

Outside of Florida, one person was killed in South Carolina during Fourth of July celebrations, and 24 people were killed in Mexico during an explosion at a firework warehouse.

Fireworks are supposed to be a fun display of excitement and patriotism. But as these recent incidents show, Fourth of July celebrations can quickly get out of hand. Whether you’re planning to use up some extra fireworks or already making preparations for New Year’s Eve or the next Fourth of July, remember to be safe while celebrating.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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