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VIDEO WARNING: Florida man seriously injured while holding firework

Polk sheriff releases video to warn against drinking, shooting mortars

POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - A Lakeland man was seriously injured from a firework during July 4th festivities.

Polk County Deputies responded to a home in Lake Wales shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday after a mortar-style firework exploded in 35-year-old Jonathan Soto's hand. 

According to deputies, Soto was holding the firework in his left hand, waiting for it to ignite, when it appeared to shoot off, and then ignite a second time in his hand.

Soto was taken to Lakeland Regional with injuries on his left hand and his chest.

"It explodes and it blows his hand open, and damages his heart. He’s rushed to the hospital where he has to undergo heart surgery in order to survive," Sheriff Grady Judd told NBC4 sister station WFLA. 

A family member declined to speak on camera but told WFLA he has significant injuries.

In a 911 call, a man can be heard frantically describing what happened to a dispatcher.

"He had a little too much to drink and he decided to put one up in his hand and it blew up in his hand! He's laying on the ground now!" the man said. 

Neighbors said they saw the group shooting off fireworks but were shocked to hear what happened. 

"That’s crazy. Now I got goosebumps thinking about what happened to him," Cissy DeGroat told WFLA.

"That’s nothing to play with. It’s a shame that had to happen to him before he could learn. That's really scary."

"It was chaos. There was firetrucks, police, ambulance, all the neighbors were coming out," neighbor Tara Quinones told WFLA.

She didn't see the incident but she did see the aftermath. She provided the video to deputies from her home surveillance camera.

"We heard a big boom and went back and looked and we saw the lights of the EMS and everything, and saw it on camera."

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office released video of the incident on Thursday to warn against drinking and shooting mortars

“Drinking + holding a mortar tube = bad idea,” the sheriff’s office tweet said.


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