Marysville man loses one hand, 3 fingers on other in fireworks mishap

SEATTLE -- A Marysville construction worker is recovering from serious injuries after a firework he picked up exploded, blowing off one of his hands and injuring the other.

"It blew one of them completely off past the wrist," said Christopher Rankin, 32. "The other (hand) got torn to pieces, but I can still use my right hand, though."

On Sunday, the day after the Fourth of July, Rankin was riding bikes with his wife near Pinewood Elementary School in Marysville when he spotted a leftover firework from the night before. He said he picked it up  -- and it exploded.

"He picked it up and said this was a firework, the next thing she (his wife) knew, there was a boom behind her," said Billie Jane Ceesa, the victim's sister-in-law. "She saw him fly off his bicycle. She went over and picked him up and blood was just gushing everywhere and his hand was missing."

Investigators say the firework was lit at the time. But the family says if that's the case, Rankin didn't realize it.

Every year, the state fire marshal does a demonstration to show the dangers of fireworks. Still, there are always accidents.

In addition to losing his left hand, Rankin is now missing three fingers on his right hand -- which will make working his current job impossible.

"I work with my hands as a laborer," he said. "Not anymore."

Rankin's family has met four other families at Harborview Medical Center who have a relative now recovering from a serious fireworks injury.

Harborview says it treated 39 people this season for injuries related to fireworks; they expected more, but said they believe all the warnings about the danger this year made the difference.