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Harlan County father hospitalized after firework explodes in his hand

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Posted at 12:22 PM, Jul 08, 2024

HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — What started as a normal Independence Day party with family ended in chaos for the Reeder family.

Deborah Reeder of Harlan County told LEX 18 she and her husband Josh were lighting off fireworks in an open field around 11:30 Thursday night when a mortar firework exploded in Josh's hand.

"It was literally the scariest moment," she said. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody."

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Deborah said the firework that exploded had a slightly shorter fuse, but they thought it was safe to light. Instead, she said it exploded like a stick of dynamite and he didn't want to throw it for fear of hitting one of the children.

"It had to have been a defective firework," she said. "It was supposed to shoot up in the sky and make a boom. It didn't do that. It just blew up right there. I knew something was wrong."

Deborah added they immediately drove Josh to the hospital in Harlan County. He was transferred to UK Hospital in an ambulance Friday.

According to Deborah, the father of three young kids has traumatic injuries to his left hand, including dislocated fingers and shattered wrist bones. She said doctors removed his middle finger. He also lost his ring finger when the firework went off.

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Deborah said Josh is a roof bolter in a coal mine and their family's sole source of income. He's also left-handed.

The family is now figuring out what's next as Josh begins to recover, but Deborah said she's grateful her husband is alive.

If you'd like to help the family, Deborah also started a GoFundMe to help with expenses while Josh is in the hospital.