California boy hospitalized, loses fingers after finding illegal firework

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (KTLA) – A young boy remains hospitalized after losing part of his hand when he discovered an illegal firework in Orange County, California.

On July 5, Edther Ocampo, 10, had finished soccer practice and was walking home with his brother, Dominic Ocampo, 11. They were heading to their grandmother’s house in San Juan Capistrano.

As the boys were walking, they spotted something on the ground in an alleyway. They picked up the unknown object, thinking it was a smoke bomb, and decided to bring it home.

It was actually an undetonated illegal firework.

At home, they lit the firework and, within seconds, it exploded while Edther was still holding onto it.

Edther Ocampo, 10, remains hospitalized in the ICU after finding an illegal firework on the ground on July 5, 2024. (Ocampo Family)Edther Ocampo, 10, is seen with his brother, Dominic Ocampo, 11. (Ocampo Family)The alleyway where the Ocampo brothers found an illegal firework discarded on the ground on July 5, 2024. (KTLA)Edther Ocampo is seen with his brother, Dominic Ocampo, and their mother, Cynthia Garcia-Huertas. (Ocampo Family)Edther Ocampo, 10, remains hospitalized in the ICU after finding an illegal firework on the ground in San Juan Capistrano on July 5, 2024. (Ocampo Family)Edther Ocampo, 10, is seen with his brother, Dominic Ocampo, 11. (Ocampo Family)Edther Ocampo, 10, remains hospitalized in the ICU after finding an illegal firework on the ground on July 5, 2024. (Ocampo Family)

The explosion left Edther with severe injuries. He lost three fingers and part of his hand, and was left with severe burns, cuts to his face and internal injuries to the abdomen area.

“Some of his organs were damaged from that,” said Cynthia Garcia-Huertas, the boys’ mother. “From the impact blown to his stomach.”

Edther was rushed to the intensive care unit at UC Irvine Medical Center where he remains hospitalized. His brother Dominic also suffered burns, cuts and bruises, but his injuries were less serious and did not require hospitalization.

The boys’ family is thankful Edther is alive and believes whoever left the illegal firework on a public street was behaving recklessly.

Only 1 state in the US completely bans consumer fireworks

Edther now has a long road to recovery ahead of him which will include rehabilitation and possibly being fitted for a prosthetic limb.

The boys’ father is a painter and their mother, who was working as a medical assistant, has left her job to help take care of Edther full-time.

Loved ones are relieved Edther is alive and are doing their best to help him recover so he can get back to doing what he loves most — playing soccer.

“I’m going to show my love and support for him the best way that I can, and it’s just being there for him,” said Garcia-Huertas. 

A GoFundMe has been organized to help the family with medical expenses.

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