Ohio Man Dies Shooting Off Fireworks in Front of Small Children When Mortar Explodes in His Chest

A man has been killed in an accident while setting off fireworks outside his home in Toledo, Ohio.

Police say the 61-year-old man, named locally as Floyd Temple, was lighting fireworks for neighborhood children when a mortar tipped over and hit him in the chest.

He was pronounced dead at the scene when emergency services arrived around 12:38 a.m. on July 2.

Neighbors said some of the children he was setting off the fireworks for witnessed the tragic accident.

"He tried to fire off a rocket that goes up into the sky and it backfired and took his chest off," Benjamin Avalos, a friend of the victim, told WTOL.

"It went off and his chest exploded, and [the children] ran over to my house and told me about it. That's when police showed up," added neighbor Rick Tuggle. "They were sitting over there. They're probably traumatized right now... They were sitting right there on the stairs when it happened."

Sterling Rahe, spokesperson for the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department, warned others about the dangers of fireworks ahead of the Fourth of July celebrations.

"They saw this happen and again it could've been a lot worse with those kids running around when you think about the Fourth of July and having fun and enjoying the time. We want people to do that, but this again is an example of what can go wrong when we talk about fireworks," he told WNWO.

An autopsy is due to be carried out to determine Temple's cause of death.

Under Ohio state law, it is legal to purchase fireworks but illegal to set them off without a permit. Anyone found illegally setting off fireworks faces a first-degree misdemeanor charge, punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and six months in jail.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), at least five people were killed as a result of fireworks in 2018.

There was also an estimated 9,100 people who required treatment in an emergency room because of firework-related injuries.

The CPSC said that around 62 percent of the firework-related injuries occurred in the month surrounding the Fourth of July celebrations (June 22—July 22).

"CPSC works year-round to help prevent deaths and injuries from fireworks, by verifying fireworks meet safety regulations in our ports, marketplace and on the road," Ann Marie Buerkle, CPSC acting chair, said in a statement. "Beyond CPSC's efforts, we want to make sure everyone takes simple safety steps to celebrate safely with their family and friends."

New Year's Eve fireworks are seen over Boston as part of Boston's First Night 2019 celebrations on December 31, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts Paul Marotta/Getty