Fireworks firm pledges to probe mishap that injured 3 in Apollo

Officials still quiet on possible causes of unplanned burst


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As a Kiski teenager and several others recovered from injuries suffered during a fireworks display Thursday night, officials were quiet Friday on what could have caused a stray shell to burst so close to the Independence Day crowd.

The shell exploded just a few minutes into the show at Owens Field in Apollo, when 14-year-old Brooke Wright was standing with a friend to watch the fireworks display.

Brooke's mother, Lisa Culp, said she saw a flash of white smoke and sparks, and then her daughter was running toward her while holding the backs of her legs, doubled over in pain.

"The first thing I do is look at the back of her legs, and I thought it was like dirt, dust, and then I see it's blood," Ms. Culp, 39, said. "The poor kid, she's like, 'Mommy, my legs hurt,' and then she pretty much fell into my arms."

Brooke could stand and move around Friday, but she balanced with a wooden cane and wore bandages on her lower legs over first- and second-degree burns.

"Today's a little bit better," she said. "I'm getting better with walking. I couldn't walk yesterday at all. It hurt so much to move."

At least two other children also were injured, Ms. Culp said, but she believed her daughter's injuries were the most severe.

Pyrotecnico, the company that provided the fireworks display at Owens Field, released a statement on the accident Friday.

"At this point, we really don't know what happened," Stephen Vitale, a spokesman for the New Castle-based company, said. "There were no detonations, no malfunctions as reported by the crew. We had no reports from the crew of any faulty product."

Apollo police did not respond to calls for comment, and state police are not involved in the investigation. The fireworks company has pledged to review the accident.

"Pyrotecnico deeply regrets that people were injured during the Owens Field fireworks display," the company said in its statement.

Apollo Salute to the Armed Forces Committee, the group that put on the fireworks show and hired Pyrotecnico, released its own statement Friday, saying: "We would like to let it be known that our thoughts are with everyone affected by the unfortunate 'freak' accident during the fireworks display [Thursday] night. We are very regretful that something like this happened and that people were injured."

As her daughter leaned on her cane Friday, Ms. Culp said she was "speechless" Thursday as she tried to process what happened at the fireworks show.

"I was in a state of shock. I didn't want to believe something like that was going to happen in an event that was supposed to be so technically and carefully organized," Ms. Culp said.

"When you see your kid like that, you just want to take their place, you know, trade places with them, take their pain away."

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Megan Doyle: mdoyle@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1953. The Associated Press contributed.


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