Community overcomes negativity after Fourth of July scare

Friday, July 7, 2017

A fun evening of Fourth of July festivities ended with a scare Tuesday night, and our community was fortunate the damage done was not life threatening.

Not too long after the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerceís Freedom Festival fireworks show started, it ended with a jolt for several people when a malfunctioning shell went off on the ground instead of in the air as intended. Several were injured, with burns sending them to the hospital, while others were left rattled at the close proximity of the malfunction.

It was an unfortunate accident, which could have potentially been a lot worse had the circumstances been different. For example, if the truck that caught the brunt of the explosion hadnít been sitting in that exact spot, the blowback from the shrapnel could have left us with a completely different scenario.

As with many small towns, the rumor mill started spinning out of control almost immediately. People believed the situation was underplayed while others were spreading false information. Our staff was on scene within minutes of the incident -- as quick as the congested traffic in the city would allow. We were there to get the right information and to share with our readers that there were injuries, but no one was seriously injured.

Those who were sitting right in the line of sight of the fireworks must have been terrified. We canít imagine the physical pain of being hit by what was essentially a piece of shrapnel that had literally just been on fire. Fear had to be the first emotion once one processed what had just happened.

But this was an accident.

One local parent expressed outraged on social media after the incident when their son was struck by the shrapnel. But they later learned the injuries were not as bad as they looked. The parent later took to social media to thank the Linton fire chief for checking in with the family personally to ensure all was well.

One witness credited other bystanders for quick thinking after injuries had been sustained. Emergency personnel were not far behind, rushing into the midst of the terrifying situation while most others were running away.

Every year, the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce puts in nearly a yearís worth of hard work into making our Independence Day celebration one of the best in the state. Once one celebration is over, they start on the next. A group of volunteers dedicate their time, talents and resources to bring thousands to our small city to celebrate our countryís birthday.

Next year, we hope the celebration goes on without a hitch and we can beef up safety measures to better ensure our safety during the festivities.