A Matagorda County teenager lost a leg, and potentially his eyesight, from a homemade explosive Saturday night that he fashioned with 180 sparklers wrapped tightly with electrical tape.
The sparkler bomb exploded in Rowdy Radford’s face when he lit it behind his aunt’s house in Sargent, Texas. Now the teen is in intensive care at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, his left leg amputated below the knee, his hands, face and chest scorched, and his eyes heavily bandaged. Doctors won’t know if he still has his eyesight until he wakes up from sedation to tell them if he can see.
Both he and a friend, who suffered less serious injuries, had metal shards from the sparklers propelled into their eyes.
The boys’ families say the sparkler bomb blew a four-foot hole in the ground and was heard by neighbors as far as four miles away.
“Rowdy has always been known for making his booms and he makes his booms by scaring everybody,” said his aunt Samantha Hansen.
“They do it every year,” said his mom Wendy Smith. “But we didn’t know this was going to be a big one.”
“As soon as Rowdy went down to light it, it exploded. He didn’t even have a chance to run,” Hansen said.
His family agreed to talk to KHOU 11 News this July 4, temporarily leaving their sedated son’s bedside to send a message to other kids and parents.
YouTube clips show teens creating the same explosive devices all across the country. Some place the powder inside tennis balls and light them. Others have wrapped as many as 1,000 sparklers together, proving it creates enough explosive power to blow up a car.
Now that power of a few supposedly safe sparklers shows in the face and damaged limbs of a 15-year-old boy—his recovery not guaranteed, his life changed forever.
“It’s really hard to see your baby go through all this. I just want the parents to know don’t let your kids play with fireworks, it’s not worth it. It really ain’t,” his mom said. “It hurts because I want to see my kid talk to me and he’s not because he can’t. It’s really rough.”
“If you knew Rowdy and how wonderful a child he was, you wouldn’t want nobody to go through this,” his aunt said. “Protect your children anything can happen.”
His family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover medical expenses.