UPDATE (July 7, 2015):
According to the New York Daily News, Devon Staples thought the firework he was waving near his head on July 4 was “a dud” because they had previously tried to set it off, to no avail. He was reportedly being silly and waving it around near his head when it exploded, his father explained: “They lit it and it did not go off. He was waving it around his head (and it exploded).”
ORIGINAL STORY (July 6, 2015):
According to KCTV, a young man was killed over the holiday weekend when he shot off a firework from the top of his head at a 4th of July party in Calais, Maine.
Devon Staples, 22, of Orlando, Florida, was reportedly drinking with friends and setting off fireworks for the holiday in a friend’s backyard, according to Stephen McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety. When Staples put a reloadable fireworks mortar tube atop his noggin and told his friends he was going to set it off, they (obviously) urged him not to.
But, according to McCausland, “Apparently, he thought [setting off a firework from his head] was a great idea. His friends they thought dissuaded him from doing it, and the next thing they knew, he ignited the fireworks and he was killed instantly.”
Staples worked at Disney World, where he would perform in costume as characters such as Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
The young man’s brother, Cody Staples, called it a “freak accident” that happened because Devon had been holding a lighter in one hand. Cody Staples said his now-deceased brother didn’t typically make impulsive decisions, and Cody was reportedly the first person at his brother’s side after the firework exploded, noting, “There was no rushing him to the hospital. There was no Devon left when I got there.”
According to the New York Daily News, Devon Staples had also been working as a dog walker and wanted to help people with troubled pets. Tragically, he was also recently engaged. His soon-to-be best man wrote a tribute on Facebook:
“All I can say is I love you man, you’re the best friend anyone could ask for, and I’ll see you again someday my friend!!”
Main photo: Devon Staples as Gaston [YouTube/screenshot]