Blast from exploding fireworks mortar kills 41-year-old man, Indiana officials say

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A 41-year-old Indiana man died early Sunday when a mortar shell exploded as he set off fireworks with his family, officials say.

“It is heartbreaking,” Phil Zahm, deputy coroner, told WPTA. “With the family on the scene, that’s probably the worst part of it.”

Rescuers tried to save Stephen E. Sims of Hartford City after finding him with blast wounds to his abdomen at 12:20 a.m., but he died, the coroner’s office said in a statement.

“An initial investigation into the incident determined the mortar shell exploded inside the tube, causing the pressure to breach the side of the tube, and striking the victim,” the statement said.

Zahm told WPTA that Sims was about five feet from the fireworks mortar when it exploded.

An autopsy and toxicology tests are pending, the statement said.

In Illinois, Boone County sheriff’s deputies found a Garden Prairie man dead at 9:15 p.m. Sunday following a fireworks accident, the office wrote on Facebook.

The man, in his mid-30s, suffered fatal injuries while setting off fireworks, sheriff’s officials reported. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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