CALAIS, Maine — A local man was killed instantly Saturday when he set off a fireworks mortar tube on his head, despite efforts his friends made to stop him, state police said Sunday.
Devon Staples, 22, of Calais was in a friend’s backyard on South Street with a group of others when the incident occurred at approximately 10 p.m. The explosion caused a fatal head injury, and Staples died instantly, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Staples had been drinking with his friends when the incident occurred, McCausland said.
“When he suggested he was going to do this, his friends gathered around him and they thought they had convinced him not to do it,” McCausland said Sunday.
But before they could react, Staples set off the explosive. McCausland described the firework as being within a reloadable mortar tube available in consumer fireworks stores around the state.
The fatality was the first reported since fireworks became legal in Maine in March 2012. Fireworks sales in the state through May 2015 totaled $20.3 million, officials have said.
The incident was among several Fourth of July fireworks mishaps reported. Other incidents occurred in Friendship, Jefferson, Lebanon and Woodstock and involved burns and eye injuries, McCausland said.
In Lincoln, a garage was damaged when remains from expended fireworks ignited Saturday night. The burned materials had been placed in a cardboard box in a trash pile outside a garage on William Street. No injuries were reported, Lincoln police said.