Imperial Beach

A 59-year-old man who was looking for aluminum cans was seriously injured Wednesday when he picked up a pipe bomb and it exploded, San Diego County sheriff's detectives said.

James Wilson was walking through an alley about 5:30 a.m. in the 100 block of Ebony Avenue when he found the object, said Detective Bill Cruzen of the sheriff's arson explosive unit.

Cruzen said Wilson, who lives in the area, often goes through the alley looking for aluminum cans. Wilson told deputies that he picked up the bomb after it caught his eye.

Investigators believe the bomb was booby-trapped to go off when picked up.

Wilson was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center with burns to his face, arms and corneas, as well as multiple fractures to his hands and a broken arm and leg. A spokeswoman said Wilson was in serious condition after being in surgery most of Wednesday.

Investigators from both the sheriff's arson explosives unit and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were investigating the explosion.

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