Lake Villa man faced long recovery after fireworks injury

July 3, 2013 (WAUCONDA, Ill.)

Frank Hayes is not a big fan of the 4th. Two years ago Wednesday, the Lake Villa father of four severely injured his right hand when fireworks blew up, and Hayes was not even the one shooting them off.

"I happened to be with people that were lighting off fireworks, they were not mine, and accidents can happen," said Hayes.

Hayes says the fireworks were being shot out of a cylinder. He noticed it had tipped over and was aimed towards adults and kids, so Hayes jumped in to avoid a disaster.

"I reached down to stand up the cylinder, thinking that it shouldn't go off that direction and the cylinder just exploded in my hand," said Hayes.

Hayes' thumb was nearly severed, and the tip of his ring finger was blown off. It took a full year before Hayes recovered.

"We needed to reconstruct the joint, reconstruct the ligaments that were torn there, we had to repair the tendon," said Hayes's hand surgeon, Dr. Paul Papierski.

Hayes and his doctor strongly recommend leaving fireworks to the professionals. It's detailed work that takes expertise. It took all afternoon for fireworks to be loaded in Wauconda, fireworks that are being paid for by private funds, something this Lake County town has been doing since the economy tanked a few years ago.

"When people are willing to take the effort and the time to raise the funds I think that's obviously the way to go, because the people that are most interested are going to contribute," said Wauconda Mayor Frank Bart.

Whether you are watching fireworks in a public park or your backyard, experts remind dog owners to keep Fido inside. The Fourth of July is one of the busiest times of year for the Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center, a 24-hour ER for pets.

"Even if you have a calm dog normally, fireworks can make them anxious, nervous, and do things they would not normally do," said veterinarian Dr. Stacia Volbrecht.

Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.