NEW IBERIA — A man is recovering after losing four fingers on Christmas evening. Donald Williams was setting off fireworks with friends and family. Moments after his friend lit a canister shell, Williams was rushed to the hospital.
"It felt like it was a dud. So I went to grab it to throw it away, we had a bunch of kids around, it just blew up in my hand," explained Williams.
Williams has severe damage to both hands.
"I'm missing one finger on the right, and three on the left," he said.
Williams said he was trying to move the firework away from the younger kids.
"It's a powerful firework. That was just my instinct. If it would have stayed on the ground, with all of us around, I think more people would have gotten hurt," Williams added.
He isn't alone. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2018 more than 9,000 people went to the emergency room with firework related injuries.
He and his friends say they have no plans to shoot fireworks off, ever again.
"My left hand, I'll have to go to physical therapy to get my two fingers left working," said Williams. "But on my right hand it will just have to heal."
Williams plans on going back to work as soon as he can. A Go-Fund-Me has been set up to help with medical expenses.
"I Just have to reteach myself to do things I always used to do," he added.
The State Fire Marshal is urging people who plan to set fireworks off this week, follow these safety tips to avoid injury or fire;
- Defuse a 'dud' firework with water, do not handle it in anyway
- Detonate devices at least 200 feet away from structures, vehicles and rubbish
- Never allow children to light fireworks
- Never operate fireworks while impaired
- Light devices one at a time and monitoring embers released with a bucket of water or hose nearby
- Discard detonated items by wetting them down to prevent re-ignition and not disposing of them in a trash container immediately