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Cary Family Warns of Fireworks Dangers

Posted June 25, 2007 4:59 p.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2007 1:50 p.m. EDT

— Fireworks injured almost 11,000 people in 2005, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, with children under 15 accounting for almost half of the injuries.

Michael Shannon became one of those statistics in 1991, when he was killed by fireworks at a Fourth of July family reunion in Kentucky.

"(It was) the kind of day that everybody would want their family reunion to be like," said Michael's father, Jack Shannon.

The last display of the night was a multiple-tube device that shot balls 200 to 300 feet in the air, Jack Shannon said. The device tipped over part way through and started firing across the ground, and one of the balls hit 3-year-old Michael in the head, he said.

"As I carried him across the street, you could feel the open skull fracture," he said.

"It did not occur to me at that time that it was life-threatening," said Michael's mother, Robin Shannon.

Michael died less than a day later.

Now, the Cary family uses the Fourth of July holiday to warn others of the dangers of fireworks.

"It would be foolish for you to not realize the risk," said Michael's younger sister, Stephanie Shannon, who is now 17. "I think I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I was bitter."

Immediately after Michael's death, the Consumer Product Safety Commission investigated and pulled the type of firework that hit Michael from the market.

Firecrackers account for one fourth of all fireworks injuries nationwide, followed by bottle rockets, sparklers, Roman candles and fountains. Only sparklers and fountains are legal in North Carolina.

"We celebrate Michael (every year), but we also warn people of the dangers," Jack Shannon said. "That's my way of dealing with our son."