A 22-year-old man celebrating the Fourth of July was killed instantly over the weekend when authorities said he tried to launch fireworks from atop his head.
Devon Staples had been drinking with family and friends Saturday night in Calais, Maine, a small town near the Canadian border, when he put a reloadable fireworks mortar tube on his head and threatened to light it, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland told the Associated Press.
“His friends they thought dissuaded him from doing it, and the next thing they knew, he ignited the fireworks and he was killed instantly,” McCausland said.
Maine Fire Marshal Joe Thomas told the Portland Press Herald that Staples’s friends thought they had talked him out of the stunt and “went back to the firepit.” Then they realized he had put the mortar tube on his head and was ready to light it.
The fireworks exploded, causing a fatal head injury, authorities said.
Staples’s brother, 25-year-old Cody Staples, called it an accident.
“I was the first one who got there,” he told the New York Daily News. “There was no rushing him to the hospital. There was no Devon left when I got there.
“It was a freak accident. … 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.”
“He loved it. He loved making people happy,” Cody Staples told the New York Daily News. “Anyone who would want to give a tribute to Devon should go out and do something nice for someone. Show some love to someone you don’t know. That kid was all about showing people love.”
Staples’s death marks the first reported fireworks-related fatality in the state since lawmakers legalized the use of fireworks on private property in 2012, repealing a more than 60-year old ban.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission reported 11 fireworks-related fatalities last year.