Fireworks reignite family's painful memories

By Andrew Koubaridis

Dominic King, aged 13, needed skin grafts to his shoulder and neck for burns from fireworks. Photo /Brett Phibbs
Dominic King, aged 13, needed skin grafts to his shoulder and neck for burns from fireworks. Photo /Brett Phibbs

Dominic King has a simple message for anyone thinking of messing around with fireworks this weekend: "I was doing everything right and it still can go wrong."

The 13-year-old was injured in 2007 when a firework landed in his hoodie, burning him so badly it melted into the muscle of his neck and his shoulder.

Operations and skin grafts have removed the worst of the scar but he still faces another two procedures to loosen the skin before it's all over.

"It's starting to feel a bit tight and can't turn it full side on one side. I don't really want them but I don't want to feel uncomfortable either."

His injury came about even after his family took basic safety precautions like being 10m away from the fireworks and having a bucket of water nearby.

But when the malfunctioning firework landed in his hoodie even that wasn't enough to save him. "I wanted to light the firework [but wasn't allowed to] but got to choose it."

He chose the biggest one and it misfired. "I jumped up straight away and was sprinting in circles. It was really painful."

Dominic thinks anyone who misbehaves with fireworks is asking for trouble. "They're the dumb ones. If you do what you're not meant to you could die. I was doing everything right and [even then] it can still go wrong."

His mother, Leesa King, said he would be scarred for life. "But hopefully as he gets bigger the scars will subside, as they have already."

She hated fireworks now because, "we're reminded of the danger every day - of the danger they can be."

But as bad as his burns were, the family knew it could have been much worse. "Up until the accident we were a fan of it but now we're not. It just so happened that same night my sister's dog got hit on the motorway. He got out, terrified from fireworks."

They would not have any fireworks this weekend.

"No, definitely not. Not since that accident. It could have been his eyes, it was so close to his face. We don't celebrate it. To me it's just a waste of money and too many people and animals get hurt."

Plunket encourages people to attend public displays.

"Fireworks are fascinating and exciting but can be terrifying for young children. Adult supervision is vital, and if families choose to celebrate Guy Fawkes there are some precautions they can take to keep everyone safe," national child safety adviser, Sue Campbell, said.

- NZ Herald

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