You are the owner of this article.
Atalissa man dies in July 3 fireworks accident

Atalissa man dies in July 3 fireworks accident


An Atalissa man died when fireworks exploded in his face July 3. The death was the second fireworks-related death in Iowa in two seasons.

James McMichael, 53, of Atalissa, died at his home Wednesday, according to a Cedar County Sheriff's office news release. The incident happened at 3 p.m., July 3, at McMichael's home in the 2300 block of Jefferson Avenue. The sheriff's office said he had been struck in the head, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The death was ruled accidental, the sheriff's office said.

Born in 1966, McMichael graduated West Liberty High School in 1984, according to his obituary, which also stated, "Jamey farmed all of his life, he was a jack of all trades and enjoyed cars, hunting, fishing and guns."

A celebration of life will be held Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. at the Atalissa Fire Station, 122 Third St., Atalissa. McMichael is survived by his wife, Joan, sons Chasen and Trey, parents, Jerry and Linda, and brothers, Jarrod and Jason.

In addition to McMichael's death, there were also fireworks-related injuries in the region last weekend. UnityPoint Health reported 12 fireworks-related visits across its campuses, spokeswoman Bailey Sullivan said Monday.

Genesis Medical Centers in Davenport treated three patients with hand injuries related to fireworks over the July 4 weekend, spokesman Craig Cooper said Monday. Two were transferred to University of Iowa hospitals, while one was transferred to University of Wisconsin-Madison hospitals.

Three men were severely injured in Muscatine on the Fourth of July when fireworks exploded prematurely. One man lost a hand, while another suffered severe injuries to the face, eyes and ears and a third lost several fingers.

Two of the three men were transported to UnityPoint-Trinity Hospital by Muscatine Fire Department ambulance and one drove himself to the hospital, according to a news release from the city of Muscatine. One was later airlifted to Iowa City by helicopter while the other two were transported to Iowa City by fire department ambulances. All three are expected to recover.

McMichael's death was apparently the second reported death in the two years since home fireworks were legalized in 2017.

In 2018, Bremer County sheriff’s deputies said Coltin Carolus, 18, was injured July 7 while discharging fireworks in Waverly. Medics with Waverly Ambulance Service transported him to Waverly Hospital, but he was then transferred to Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, where he was put on life support but died the next day.

At the time, Iowa Fire Marshal Dan Wood said it was the first death in the state he knew of since the Iowa Legislature legalized consumer fireworks in 2017.

Details were not released at the time on how Carolus died, but the 2018 Fireworks Report released in June by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission had details that matched the incident and provided more details.

“According to the sheriff’s report, an adult friend decided to tape a tube to a football helmet using duct tape. This friend then placed the helmet on his head and launched several fireworks from the helmet. This friend did not experience any incidents while doing so.”

The report continued, “The victim stated he also wanted to launch fireworks from his head and taped a tube to a second helmet. The victim placed the helmet on his head, loaded the tube, and launched one mortar shell from the tube while it was atop of his head. The victim loaded the second mortar in the tube and ignited it, but the shell became stuck in the tube and didn’t launch. The mortar exploded in the tube atop of the victim’s head a few seconds later and caused the victim to fall to the ground.”

The report said there were 9,100 fireworks-related injuries in 2018 in the United States — the least since 8,700 in 2012.

Members of the The Gazette staff contributed to this article.


Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News