Pyro-Tech Injured At Fourth Fest


As the first fireworks exploded in the sky over Green Valley Park Tuesday night, a shell misfired and injured pyrotechnic operator Terry Wetter.

The accident briefly interrupted the finale to the town's day-long July fourth celebration, but Wetter stayed to see the show through.

"There was a three-inch shell that just malfunctioned," said Kerry Welty, owner of Fireworks Productions. "It happens sometimes; it's the nature of the business."

The shell blew up inside the launching tube, turning the tube and its wooden holder into shrapnel, Welty said.

The flying debris scraped Wetter's hands, arms and legs, and he was immediately attended to by paramedics, Payson Fire Marshal Jack Babb said.

Despite his injuries, Wetter stayed at the lakeside launch pad to make sure the show went on as planned. After the last missile was fired, he went to Payson Regional Medical Center where he was treated for his injuries and released.

"He's doing good," Welty said Thursday. "He wasn't burned or anything. He suffered some scrapes, basically from the flying wood."

To put the mishap into perspective, Welty said his company supplied 130 fireworks displays for shows in New Mexico and Arizona over the weekend, with more than 50,000 shells fired.

"We only had a couple of accidents, and they were all minor," he said. "I've been hurt myself. It's just one of those things and it will probably never happen again up there."

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