July 5, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Detroit man, 44, killed while lighting fireworks

Detroit — A 44-year-old Detroit man celebrating July Fourth has been killed after fireworks he was lighting struck him in the chest and exploded.

WXYZ-TV and WDIV-TV report Saturday that instead of shooting toward the sky, the fireworks shot out horizontally about 10:30 p.m. Friday on the city’s west side.

A neighbor tells WWJ-AM that the man was holding the fireworks when it went off.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

State lawmakers in 2011 legalized louder, more powerful fireworks. In 2012, the 6 percent sales tax and an additional 6 percent levy on fireworks generated about $2.68 million in revenue for the state, records show.

Proponents of legalizing the sale of bottle rockets, Roman candles and other airborne fireworks predicted the state could reap $8 million to $40 million in revenue that would otherwise end up in the coffers of Ohio and Indiana, where Michiganians had traveled for years to buy those fireworks previously banned in the Great Lakes state.

David Malhalab a retired Detroit Police Department sergeant who worked in fireworks enforcement, said state lawmakers made a mistake.

“They did not fully understand what they were doing. They had tax dollars in their eyes and didn’t see the consequences, such as injury, maiming and death,” said Malhalab.

Malhalab said he is especially concerned about parents who let their children ignite what he calls powerful professional-grade fireworks.

Released last month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2013 Fireworks Annual Report found an increase in the number of fireworks-related deaths and injuries.

There were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 people who sustained fireworks-related injuries. This is an increase from 8,700 injuries in 2012. Of those injuries 65 percent or 7,400, occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4, 2013.

According to the report, in each of the eight fireworks-related deaths recorded in 2013, the victim was manipulating (or was a bystander to someone who was handling) a banned, professional or home-manufactured device.

Detroit News staff writer Ursula Watson contributed.