Hawaii Island (KHON2) — The Fourth of July is just around the corner and the family of Jesse Owen Thornton, who was killed last month making fireworks in his house, has an important message for the community.
Thornton, 35, died on May 30, two days after a bottle rocket he was making exploded.
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According to the Hawaii Police Department, it happened around 2 a.m. in the Fern Forest subdivision of Puna on the Big Island.
His wife Marci and mother, Victoria Fowler, are still picking up the pieces of their lives in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“It’s the worse thing in the world,” Fowler said while holding back tears. “No mother should ever have to experience this.”
She said her son was outgoing and marched to the beat of a different drum.
“That was my son,” Fowler said with pride. “He was so loving and so caring, but he was also an experimenter.”
According to Fowler, Thornton had been dabbling in explosives and fireworks since he was a kid.
“He was actually in the process of making bottle rockets for the Fourth of July, to put on a show for his children to entertain them and something went really badly wrong,” said Fowler.
Thornton’s wife said she and their three daughters were upstairs asleep when it happened.
“There was a big, large explosion, the whole house shook,” Marci Thornton explained. “I came running into the room and it was just a cloud of smoke.”
Marci said Jesse was still conscious but not doing well.
“He (Jesse) said that he’d messed up, ‘Mama I’ve messed up.’ He says, ‘I should have listened to you,'” Marci explained.
The firework had exploded in his hand. He lost a good portion of his liver, most of his colon, had a broken rib and his left hand had multiple fractures.
Jesse underwent multiple surgeries but he wasn’t able to pull through.
Two days after the accident, he was gone.
His family is urging the public not to make the same mistake Jesse made.
“Be safe, follow the rules. It’s for a reason. It’s not worth the risk of losing loved ones or family members,” Marci said.
“It can kill you,” Fowler warned. “If you don’t have the protective clothing that is required to do these things don’t do it. Anybody who’s not licensed to play with explosives needs to not play with explosives. I lost my son, my oldest son, and I can’t get him back. He’s gone and my heart is just broken.”
Anyone interested in helping his family cover the funeral and other costs can click here.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Public Information Officer Jason Chudy urged the public to leave the fireworks to the professionals.
“They’re the ones who have the licenses to set up the big display fireworks and the big shows, leave it to them. It’s safer that way,” Chudy said. ” And at the end of the day, you want to be able to go home safely.”
Chudy also wanted to remind everyone it’s illegal unless you’re licensed.
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“If somebody is constructing their own homemade fireworks, whether they’re consumer or the display type fireworks, they do need a federal firearms or federal explosives license to actually do that,” said Chudy.