Pyrotechnician recovering from burns

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 9, 2003

An accident Saturday evening caused the cancellation of the fireworks finale of the 2003 Christmas on the River festival.

Kevin Rasberry of New Orleans, the son of the owner of Events Unlimited, who coordinated the fireworks for this year’s COTR, was injured when he ignited fireworks with a flare, said Alec Braswell, COTR chairman.

The accident occurred Saturday at approximately 7:40 p.m.

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Usually the fireworks technicians stay back some 20 yards in the woods and ignite the fireworks through remote keyboards, Braswell said. For some reason, Rasberry needed to light some of the fireworks by hand.

He received flash burns to the left side of his face – much like a bad sunburn, Braswell said. Rasberry also had burns on his left hand and received cuts and lacerations.

Two U.S. Coast Guard boats rushed to the scene in approximately a minute and began administering first aid. “The way they responded was phenomenal,” Braswell said.

Rasberry was taken to Bryan W. Whitfield Hospital, where he was treated and releases, hospital officials said Monday.

Only half of the planned fireworks for Christmas on the River were ignited. Some were seen during the Night Nautical Parade, but a fireworks finale was originally planned.

The accident happened at a time before the last three floats were presented in the parade, Braswell said.