A Tulsa man speaks out on the dangers of fireworks one year after a fireworks blast blew off part of his face.
Twenty-three-year-old Taron Pounds has set off fireworks every Fourth of July for as long as he can remember, but last year when he set off a commercial-grade firework, it exploded in his face, forever changing the holiday, but more importantly his life.
Pounds says he was just like any other college student with a love for music. He was a third-year student at Northeastern State University, who's a standout guitar player.
Pounds was celebrating his cousin's wedding last July when he wanted to go big and set off some commercial fireworks, so he did, and that's when a 4-inch mortar shell exploded in his face, and tore off his skin.
"I only had a second to react," said Pounds. "Whenever it went off, the firework hit me right in my left cheek, and I believe it bounced off and exploded a little ways away from me."
Surgeons removed bone and skin from Pounds' leg and chest to replace the skin on his face.
"And he was not only missing his cheekbone, but he's missing the bone beneath his left eye, which also causes his left eye to sort of sink into his head" said Pounds' surgeon Dr. Trinitia Cannon. "It's been the most challenging surgery of my career.
After the blast last year, Pounds' mother was devastated.
"It was very hard to believe," said Tammy Pounds, Pounds' mom in tears. "It will definitely be a year I'll never forget."
The Pounds family met at OU Medical Center on Monday where Pounds has his numerous surgeries. They wanted to warn other families of the dangers of setting off fireworks.
"They are a cheap thrill and they're so dangerous," Tammy Pounds said. "And people, you think, oh, it's just a sparkler, well, it's just a sparkler until it touches you."
The family says they'll never use fireworks again and are thankful Pounds' alive and recovering.
"I'm going to be okay. I'm going to be better than okay," Pounds said.
Pounds documents each part of his recovery with pictures and video. He hopes his journey will help someone else suffering from a fireworks injury.
He still needs to have at least four more reconstructive surgeries this year. Pounds is due back at OU Medical in Mid-August for his next surgery to fix his cheek and lip.