9-year-old Compton girl loses left hand in illegal fireworks explosion, police say

A 9-year-old girl lost her left hand in an illegal fireworks explosion in Compton that also caused injuries to her right hand and her face, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

The girl was rushed to a nearby hospital by family members who told investigators that at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday she was playing at Burrell-MacDonald Park in the 2500 block of West Alondra Boulevard when the explosion took place. Her parents were inside their home, which is near the park, when they heard the explosion, Sgt. Daniel Tobin said.

“They came out and saw her standing at the park and her entire left hand was missing,” Tobin said. “She was just in shock and they quickly grabbed her, put her in a car and whisked her to the hospital. Unfortunately, the damage was beyond any sort of repair.”

The girl also lost fingers on her right hand, authorities said. She remained at the hospital in stable condition Monday evening.


Tobin said the department’s arson and explosives detail was informed when the girl was already in the hospital. He said investigators are looking into theories that the youngster may have picked up a firework that was launched in her direction but cautioned that it is too early to know the exact circumstances. 

Investigators are still attempting to contact witnesses and no arrests have been made, Tobin said.

“Unfortunately, the patrol deputies weren’t notified for a couple of hours after the explosion, so we didn’t get out to the scene for several hours,” Tobin said. “The park was littered with fireworks debris that may or may not be related to this explosion.”

Nationally, fireworks injuries hit a 15-year high in 2015 with 11,900 people treated in hospital emergency rooms, according to a report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The most common injuries were to hands and fingers. 


Eleven people died last year in fireworks-related incidents, the report shows.

In California, fireworks are regulated by cities. Compton allows the use of fireworks certified as “safe and sane” by the state fire marshal.

But Tobin said the fireworks that injured the young girl would not be legal in the city.

“Anything that would cause the sort of explosive trauma that was caused here is illegal everywhere in the United States,” Tobin said. “The type of fireworks that are legal in some municipalities would not cause this type of trauma unless they are modified.”

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4:57 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the incident and background about fireworks injuries nationally.

This article was originally published at 7:43 p.m. on Sunday.


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