Top 10 Craziest 4th of July Accidents Ever

Script written by Nick Spake.

There are many ways to celebrate the Fourth of July; but whatever you do, be careful and try to stay out of the hospital. Whether it was a fireworks accident that injured a 2-year-old, a boat crash that killed four, or a tourist accidentally stepped on a firework in Central Park and losing his foot, these are some of the worst things to ever happen on July Fourth. WatchMojo counts down ten of the scariest Independence Day disasters.

Special thanks to our user Muppet_Face for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Craziest%204th%20of%20July%20Accidents

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Script written by Nick Spake.

Top 10 Craziest 4th of July Accidents


These mishaps left people covered in red, seeing white stars, and generally feeling blue. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Worst 4th of July Accidents.

For this list, we’re taking a look at reported cases when Fourth of July celebrations or preparations went horribly wrong.

#10: The Boat Blowout

Sharks might keep some people out of the water on the Fourth of July, but there’s another dangerous foe we constantly underestimate: fireworks. In 2013, eighteen boats were damaged by fire near the SkyLaunch Marina on Lake Union, resulting in $1.5 million worth of damage. The Seattle Fire Department determined that the blaze stemmed from illegal fireworks, which were shot off from a hill not too far away from the marina. The annual fireworks display at Lake Union is typically a lovely sight, but spectators got more than they bargained for that year; the only upside is that nobody was killed or seriously injured, with just one firefighter suffering a minor knee injury.

#9: When Sparklers Attack

Sometimes it just takes a tiny little spark to make a big boom. A group of people in Ohio learned this the hard way one fateful Fourth of July. As roughly 20 individuals partied inside, several children played outside with sparklers. When a spark from one of the sparklers landed in a bag full of unused fireworks, a recipe for disaster was ignited. The fireworks went off, and a total of seven people were reportedly injured, five of which happened to be kids. One woman was left with serious burns covering half of her body, while the person hurt the worst was a 2-year-old girl.

#8: Gaston’s Last Stand

In the final act of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Gaston falls to his ultimate demise and a fireworks display follows shortly after. Keeping that in mind, there’s a real sense of tragic irony to this incident. Devon Staples, who had previously portrayed Gaston at Disney World, sadly lost his life while setting off fireworks with his friends on the Fourth of July, 2015. Joking around, the 22-year-old actor placed a reloadable fireworks mortar tube on top of his head. Igniting the firework, Staples was killed instantly in what his brother described as “a freak accident.” As you can see, there’s a good reason why no one sets off explosives like Gaston.

#7: A Fistful of Fireworks


When you see somebody selling illegal fireworks, just say no. On Independence Day, 2014, Alazar Ortiz was attempting to light fireworks in his mother’s driveway when one of them unexpectedly went off. The 40-year-old San Jose man was rushed to the hospital where doctors were only able to salvage two fingers on his left hand; his right hand had to be amputated altogether. As if that’s not horrible enough, Ortiz was a construction worker, meaning that a functional pair of hands was essential for him to make a living. Ortiz has since gotten a bionic hand, but his story remains a cautionary tale for anybody that’s ever been tempted to purchase illegal fireworks.

#6: Explosives in Central Park

Over the Fourth of July weekend in 2016, college student Connor Golden was climbing down a rock in Central Park. As misfortune would have it, the 18-year-old tourist stepped on a homemade, shock-sensitive explosive that was inside a black plastic bag. The impact caused the explosive to detonate, blowing off Golden’s foot. The blast was so loud that it interrupted the nearby funeral service for Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor. Golden’s left leg was subsequently amputated, although he would walk again with the use of a prosthetic leg paid for partially via Kickstarter. The moral of the story: always watch your step and never leave explosives lying around.

#5: Tragedy on the Water

The fireworks fiasco in Seattle might’ve ruined boats, but property damage is inconsequential compared to the loss of a human life. After a Miami firework show wrapped up, tragedy struck the Dinner Key Marina where three boats collided in a catastrophic crash. 22 individuals were involved in the crash, which ultimately claimed the lives of Andy Garcia, Kelsie Karpiak, Victoria Dempsey, and Jason Soleimani. In addition to those four fatalities, seven were left injured. Given the scorching July weather, it’s no wonder the sea calls out to many people on the Fourth of July. Accidents like this will motivate anybody to stay on dry land, though.

#4: Simi Valley Fireworks Fail

When people are messing around with fireworks at home, there’s obviously gonna be some risk involved. When people attend a professional fireworks display open to the public, though, they expect things to go off without a hitch. This wasn’t the case in Simi Valley, California, where a 2013 firework show resulted in a major Fourth of July fail. A pyrotechnic shell went off in its mortar tube, causing a chain reaction that sent fireworks blasting towards an audience of thousands. The area suddenly turned into a combat zone, leaving dozens injured. The victims ranged in age from 17-months-old to someone in their 70s, although fortunately nobody was killed.

#3: The Perilous Parade

Like firework shows, parades are an Independence Day tradition for numerous families. In 2013, however, the LibertyFest Fourth of July Parade was rained upon in the worst way imaginable. On a busy street in Edmond, Oklahoma, Quinton Hooper drove a float with several karate students onboard. Among the students was Hooper’s 8-year-old son, Aidan, who fell off the flatbed trailer and was accidentally run over by the float. A nurse and police officer performed CPR on Aidan, but he was unfortunately pronounced dead upon arriving at the hospital. Following this unspeakable nightmare, Quinton and his wife, Susannah, have strived to keep their son’s memory alive through the Aidan Hooper Legacy Fund.

#2: Long Island Car Crash

While the water isn’t always the safest place to be on the Fourth of July, the roads aren’t much better. Speeding down a slippery street in Long Island, Gustave Geyer swerved his 1990 Chevy pickup truck into another lane. The truck crashed into a 2014 Nissan Altima with four adults and an 11-month-old boy inside. Thus ensued a fatal collision that not only claimed Geyer’s life, but also killed three of the Altima’s passengers. The baby, who had a few minor injuries, and his mother, who was left with life-threatening burns, were the only survivors. According to reports, Geyer had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit.

#1: The Decapitation of Jesse William Burley

This accident is so brutal and bizarre that it sounds like something out of a Coen Brothers movie, especially seeing as how it took place in Fargo, North Dakota. According to eyewitnesses, 41-year-old Jesse William Burley walked into the middle of the street to set off a Fourth of July firework. He lit it up, a puff of smoke appeared, and then BOOM! Resident Chris Hanson immediately rushed to his neighbor’s aid only to find that Burley had been beheaded. Hanson later stated that the fireworks came with a warning that read, “If found please report to the U.S. government.” Too bad Burley didn’t give Uncle Sam a call.
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