The Ravenna man says he hasn't had a problem in 30 years.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HUBBARD -- The exhibitor thinks a product malfunction may be responsible for an explosion that injured more than a dozen spectators during a fireworks show at the Founders Day weekend celebration.
Fire Chief Dave Kyle says a miscue is a possibility.
The injuries occurred about 10:30 p.m. Sunday in Harding Park, just before the fireworks finale.
Two people remain hospitalized today, one in St. Elizabeth Hospital Medical Center and the other in the Burn Trauma Center at Akron Children's Hospital.
"I was doing my job," said Van Burnett, owner of Burnett Display Co., Ravenna.
What possibly happened
Burnett, who has been shooting fireworks for 30 years, said he thinks one shell malfunctioned when it broke apart in the air, the resulting explosion causing the injuries.
He said a portion of the shell could have blown out the side of the rocket, possibly "an oddball product."
The fireworks were purchased from Keystone Fireworks and Specialty Sales Co. of Dunbar, Pa. A company spokesman could not be reached.
"We use [Keystone Fireworks] all the time. It's an excellent product," Burnett said. "I sure don't want some junk product out there."
"I've never had an accident in my life," he said.
Burnett said the 30-minute display had four minutes remaining when the spectators were injured.
One of them, Tracy Mroski, 30, of Hubbard, will remain in the Akron burn center for about a week, said her father, Robert.
Ms. Mroski, an English teacher at Austintown Fitch High School, is being treated for what her father described as hundreds of pinhole-size burns.
Mroski said that as he ran toward the area where he knew his three daughters were standing with friends, he thought he would "see pieces of people over there."
The Hubbard man, vice president of the Hubbard Volleyball Boosters Club, was helping to dismantle the boosters' tent at the celebration.
"It looked like a couple of fireworks didn't blow up properly," he recalled. "I immediately ran over to the spot to see if I could help."
The first person he came upon was his daughter. He said she couldn't hear.
Mroski, 53, said seven people in the crowd were injured, including his daughter. "Tracy was definitely the worst one," he said.
Robert Sharp, an investigator with the state fire marshal's office, said Burnett is cooperating in the investigation.
Sharp said he was to begin interviewing the injured today to determine what happened.
Eight people were taken to Forum Health Medical Center. All were released after treatment, except for Ms. Mroski, who was transferred to Akron.
A spokeswoman for St. Elizabeth's said eight people were released after treatment. Another, whose name was not made available, was admitted with burns.