Fireworks critically hurt girl, 4
By MARICELLA MIRANDA
The Kansas City Star
A 4-year-old Platte County girl remained in critical condition Tuesday at Children's Mercy Hospital after a wooden piece from an exploded firework device struck her in the face.
Shonna Gresham, the injured child, reportedly was playing on the steps of a porch Monday about 150 feet from where revelers were igniting fireworks, said Robin Johnston, a neighbor who was at the scene soon after the incident.
Authorities of the Platte County Sheriff's Department said the child was injured in the face by a consumer-grade mortar firework that was legal to ignite in a rural area.
A helicopter transported Shonna to Children's Mercy Hospital, where she remained in critical condition late Tuesday, authorities said.
Johnston, who lives near where the Independence Day weekend celebration was occurring, said the piece of wood that struck Shonna was removed at the hospital.
Johnston said Tuesday that she was grieving for Shonna's family and was grateful that her 5-year-old daughter, who was playing with Shonna just moments before the incident, was not injured as well.
The incident occurred Monday at a residence in the 4200 block of Lowman Road in rural Platte County, Johnston said. About 20 persons were lighting fireworks, and it was unclear who ignited the device, she said.
Sgt. Joseph King, a sheriff's department spokesman, said the incident remained under investigation Tuesday, but he said the exploded device was legal. A news release issued by authorities described the incident as an “accident.”
A mortar tube can be made of paper, high-density polyethylene, glass-reinforced plastic or metal. The tube sits on a wood platform. Shells are dropped inside the tube with a long fuse. The lift power at the bottom of the tube shoots the shells into the air, emitting an audible and aerial display.
“This is something that you can buy at a (fireworks) stand and shoot in your back yard,” King said. “It's a larger firework.”
Although Johnston was on her way home when the incident occurred, she said her husband was within several feet of Shonna when she was injured. When he rolled Shonna on her back, he saw severe injuries to her face, Johnston said.
“He didn't see anything or hear anything,” Johnston said. “It just happened.”
Last weekend, 28 cases of firework injuries were brought to the Children's Mercy Hospital emergency room, according to hospital officials.
Johnston said she was not going to buy fireworks again.
“Fireworks are not an option,” she said. “It's not worth it.”
Maricella Miranda can be reached at (816) 234-5909 or by e-mail at [email protected].