Updated: Friday, 02 Jul 2010, 5:45 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 02 Jul 2010, 5:45 PM EDT
MAYVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) - A southern tier woman wants to spread the word that fireworks can be dangerous, even when you know how to handle them.
It had been a typical 4th of July celebration in Mayville in 2005 with the parade to be followed by the 10 p.m. fireworks display. The events coordinators remember making their way to the banks of Chautauqua Lake to check on the progress of the pyrotechnics crew.
Rita Jacobson recalled, "We were over, checking on the fireworks shooting crew, and it was time to shoot the 4 o'clock salute. They lit it. We turned to walk away."
As they were leaving the launch site, one of the three-inch shells exploded on the ground, inside the launch tube, sending red hot plastic in all directions.
"This was the shirt that I was wearing when this all happened. This is the hole that was ripped into my shirt and my chest and down below are the blood stains," described Jacobson.
Chris Cooper recounted, "I remember I yelled to Rita, "Oh my gosh, I can't hear!" 'Cause I hadn't really realized what had happened, and she was kind of bent over, and said, "I don't know, but my chest hurts." And when she stood up, I said, "Oh my gosh!""
This is the piece of PVC pipe that missed Jacobson's heart, but damaged her lung.
"That piece hit in here and stayed buried in there until I got to the hospital," said Jacobson.
After three surgeries, the fireworks accident left her with a five-inch scar. This 4th of July holiday, Jacobson hopes people will remember her story and just be careful. Even at a professional event, things can go wrong.
Jacobson warned, "Accidents happen, and that's exactly what this is. It was an accident, and if anybody else can learn from that, that's wonderful."
And, of course, the show will go on again this year. Saturday is the big day for celebrating in Mayville. Jacobson and Cooper will be among those coordinating all of the festivities.