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One dead, several injured after fireworks explode

July 28, 1997

CHARLEVOIX, Mich. (AP) _ Flying debris from an explosion during a fireworks show killed a man and injured at least 15 people, several seriously.

Mark Yager, 43, died after the fireworks exploded on one of the trailers being used to set off the fireworks Saturday night, police said. He was standing 75 yards away from the fireworks when he was hit in the head by a piece of flying metal, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported in Monday’s editions.

``We’re trying to determine what went wrong,″ state police Lt. Richard Killips said Sunday.

One of four people operating the fireworks refused to take a breath test for alcohol and have his car searched, State Police Sgt. Mike Tilley said. Police impounded his vehicle and obtained a search warrant for a blood sample.

``He had been drinking, and admitted he had been drinking,″ Tilley told the newspaper. The man’s name was not released.

Police wouldn’t say if alcohol was related to the blast.

Eight people were treated and released at hospitals. Seven people were hospitalized; five were in fair condition, one was in serious and one was critical condition on Sunday.

The injuries included head trauma, severed limbs, shattered bones and lacerations, Coast Guard officials said.

The show continued after the explosion as operators didn’t realize the extent of injuries around them, said Dennis Halverson, police chief of this Lake Michigan town.

Richard Davis, founder and operator of Fireworks North, could not be reached for comment and his lawyer Scott Beatty of Charlevoix would not comment on the accident.

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