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Town Lawyer Killed in Fireworks Display Accident

September 5, 1988

GRAYVILLE, Ill. (AP) _ An explosion during a fireworks display killed a civic-minded lawyer, tragically ending a Labor Day weekend celebration in his hometown, officials said Monday.

Scott F. Broster, 28, who returned to practice law in the southern Illinois town of 2,300 people about a year ago, was helping set off the fireworks when the accident happened Sunday night, said Mayor Jack Hagedorn.

″I don’t know of anybody that didn’t like Scott,″ Hagedorn said in a telephone interview Monday. ″He was a fine young attorney. He was a very fine young man. He had excellent character and everything. It’s just a tragedy.″

Hagedorn said Broster had recently worked as a part-time city attorney, handling all legal work for the town since it doesn’t have a full-time city attorney.

Grayville police and the state fire marshal’s office were investigating the cause of the explosion, said a police dispatcher.

She said the accident happened at 8:19 p.m. Sunday while Broster was ″assisting with the annual fireworks display″ in a city park.

He was flown by helicopter to Welborn Baptist Hospital in Evansville, Ind., where he was dead on arrival at 9:45 p.m., said a nursing supervisor.

Several thousand people had gathered Sunday night to watch the fireworks display, which was the finale to the annual Grayville Days Celebration. The events, which started Friday, included a parade, the ″Miss Grayville″ and ″Little Miss Grayville″ beauty contests, and carnival attractions.

″Everything was just going swell,″ he said. ″This kind of put a black cloud over it.″

The display had been going on five or 10 minutes when the explosion occurred, the mayor said. The fireworks were being set off from mortars, each manned by someone loading, someone firing and someone cleaning, he said.

″I think his job was the cleaning,″ Hagedorn said.

Bernita Campbell, a secretary at Sturm Funeral Home, which was making arrangements for the lawyer’s funeral, said the victim’s parents, Sam and Juanita Broster, were among the crowd watching the fireworks.

She said Broster was single and was active in the Lion’s Club and Jaycees.

″He was just a nice guy, that’s all,″ Mrs. Campbell said. ″It’s devastating, really. In a small town where you know everybody, it’s very bad.″

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