The wife of a local fireworks stand owner was flown to a Kansas City, Kan., hospital by air ambulance Tuesday night after being hit in the head by an errant firework.
Barb Pine was recuperating Wednesday at the University of Kansas Hospital from injuries she suffered when a rocket-type firework struck her in the head around her left eye about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday near the Pines' fireworks stand at Teepee Junction.
Pine is the wife of Jim Pine, one of the stand's three owners.
Her brother-in-law Marvin Pine, another of the stand's owners, said the accident happened as family members were shooting off fireworks in an area behind the stand. Apparently, one of the fireworks tipped over or malfunctioned.
"Three or four items were being lit at once. We still don't know how it happened," he said. "Some people at least saw the trail of sparks and a projectile coming over toward her. She must have been watching something else at the time."
He said she had surgery on her eye at the hospital and that she could come home as soon as today.
"The loss of some eyesight is always possible, but there's no way of knowing at this point," he said.
Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Chief Mark Bradford said aside from that incident, the Fourth of July was quiet for his department. He said the department responded to about six grass or brush fires linked to fireworks Monday but none on the Fourth of July itself.
Between Saturday and Tuesday, seven people were treated at Lawrence Memorial Hospital for fireworks-related injuries to their hands, arms or legs, spokeswoman Belinda Rehmer said. One of the injured was admitted to the hospital.
Between Friday and Tuesday, Lawrence Police received 298 calls from people reporting violations of the city's fireworks ban. But no figures were available Wednesday on how many of those resulted in citations being issued.
In many cases, officers confiscated the fireworks instead of writing a ticket. Sgt. Dan Ward said at times it could be difficult to catch someone in the act of shooting fireworks.
"During peak call times, when we have numerous other calls coming in, this is obviously a lower priority," Ward said. "If there was a 20- or 40-minute time delay, often by the time we show up there's nobody there."