The mother of Devon Staples, the 22 year-old former Disney performer who died on July 4 after attempting to launch a firework off his head, is advocating for stricter controls on explosives saying the lack of rules and safety training contributed to her son’s death.
According to police, the fatal accident took place Saturday night when Staples was drinking at a party in his hometown of Calais, Maine, and put a reloadable fireworks mortar tube on his head, which when lit immediately killed him.
Following the tragedy, Staples’ mother, Kathleen, is calling for state lawmakers to enforce tighter control on fireworks and other explosives -particularly, safety training. She says that her son thought the firework he put on his head was “a dud” and that he was in no harm.
The mother’s immediate call for government to step in and regulate fireworks is an all too common response that has played out in various ways over the years as people search for someone to blame or think the government has all the answers.
Someone uses a gun to harm innocent people — the government can fix it. Childhood obesity is becoming a serious concern — the government can fix it. And on and on increases the reality of big government turning into big brother.
State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas expressed his skepticism that Staples lack of knowledge was to blame – saying that the same mortar had already been fired once, so he “can’t imagine someone would anticipate that it was a dud.”
Staples’ own fiancée admitted that he [Devon] was “buzzed” while dancing and playing with the explosive mortar tubes.
Staples’ death over the holiday weekend is the first fireworks related fallibility in Maine since the state legalized the explosives in 2012, repealing a 1949 law banning fireworks.
Retired fire chief and Democratic Rep. Michel Lajoie from Lewiston has been an advocate of repealing Maine’s newer fireworks law, but admits that enforcing safety measures may be a long shot. Even he says more safety measures won’t necessarily prevent more accidents.
“They’re going to say, ‘Well, you can’t regulate stupidity’ … and it’s true, you can’t. But the fact of the matter is you have to try something, I’m not giving up,” Lajorie told the Associated Press.