A 13-year-old boy was seriously injured when a "mortar-type" firework exploded in his face Sunday night in Deer Park, while Long Island officials worried about an uptick in illegal fireworks used by residents celebrating July Fourth and a return to normal holiday festivities.
The boy, whose identity was not released, remained in serious condition at Stony Brook University Hospital Monday afternoon after a group of teenagers lit off fireworks on Arcadia Drive and one exploded at about 10:50 p.m. Sunday, police said.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said county officials have received "an increased number of complaints about the volume and intensity of fireworks being set off in residential areas" this year as people break free from pandemic restrictions.
"Even though Fourth of July has passed, people may be eager to continue the party — and the fireworks — over the next few days. I want to remind residents that fireworks are dangerous and illegal," Curran said in a statement.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone urged residents to "leave the fireworks to the professionals," adding that "unfortunately, we continue (to) hear about these incidents happening and they are unnecessary, preventable injuries."
"Fireworks are something we all look forward to seeing, but it's critically important that we recognize and remember the potentially disastrous consequences of nonprofessionals utilizing illegal fireworks," Bellone said in a statement.
Suffolk County Police could not provide statistics Monday on fireworks arrests or other injuries over the holiday weekend. In Nassau, a police spokesman said in an email: "There was only one reported injury and other incidents are still be investigated to see if they are firework related."
Suffolk County Police said they were also looking into a house fire in Patchogue that left no injuries Sunday night. But arson squad detectives said they could not rule out fireworks as the cause, which had yet to be determined.
In late June 2020, Nassau Police experienced a 427% increase in fireworks complaints from the same time in 2019, and Suffolk Police had a 121% increase, officials said last year.
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said last week that complaints about fireworks were the top reason for department calls so far this year, except for complaints about speeding motorcycles at night.
Fireworks are illegal, except in the hands of professionals with permits, and possession can lead to arrest, regardless of whether they have been lit, police said.
Curran urged residents to report illegal fireworks by calling 911 and their sales by contacting authorities at FireworksSales@nassaucountyny.gov.
Police are asking anyone with information on the boy's injuries, including how the teens were able to obtain the fireworks, to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS or First Squad detectives at 631-854-8152. All calls will remain confidential.
With John Valenti