Graduation fireworks mishap an 'accident'

6 injured in explosion in bleachers

Headline Goes Here Cherine Tomlinson Pritchard

MACCLENNY, Fla. - Setting off fireworks is nothing new at the Baker County football stadium.

They go off from the end zones regularly at Baker County High School football games and graduations. It's been that way for several years now, and there have never been any problems. But at the school's graduation ceremony Friday, there was a mishap for the first time.

For whatever reason, one of the fireworks didn't explode in the air. Instead, it landed in the bleachers filled with people and blew up there, causing minor injuries to six people. No one had to be taken to a hospital.

Firefighters said the explosion was an accident.

A YouTube video of the commencement shows the graduates celebrating after turning their tassels. Then comes the explosion.

"One of the fireworks just came down. It was a dud," said Mike Wawzynski, who was injured in the explosion. "I looked up in the sky and jokingly said, 'Where'd that one go?' All the sudden, about five seconds later it lifted us and moved us. It was like an explosion, a grenade."

Wawzynski said he was right there watching his son graduate and still has a headache from the blast. His wife has burns on her neck, and he said a few other of his family members were also burned.

"I seriously thought somebody was maimed or killed by the size of the explosion," Wawzynski said.

Baker high graduation YouTube video

Firefighters from the city of Macclenny are the ones who set off the fireworks. They said they do it from time to time, though they wouldn't comment on Friday's blast. Only the chief would speak about it, but he wasn't available Monday.

The school district's facilities and maintenance manager said in a phone interview that everything is under investigation, but it appears to be just a freak accident. He said officials are discussing whether fireworks will be banned from future events.

Wawzynski said the school is lucky it wasn't any worse.

"If it had landed in a stroller or a baby carriage or next to someone's head, they would have been killed," he said.

Wawzynski said he and his family members are going to be just fine, but he said this proves how dangerous fireworks can be and he hopes it's a lesson for people to be extra careful.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.