San Jose

Illegal Fireworks Cost South Bay Man Both His Hands

An accident involving illegal fireworks has cost a South Bay man both of his hands.

The accident happened Friday night in San Jose, near Cassel Park, while Alazar Ortiz and his family were celebrating the Fourth of July.

Ortiz had his right hand amputated. On his left hand, doctors were able to save two of his fingers.

Family members said Ortiz is a construction worker, and this accident will most certainly cost him his job.

The 40-year-old man was lighting what family members described as a professional grade explosive, the kind used in large fireworks displays, when it prematurely exploded.

Ortiz was lighting the device in his mother’s driveway on Leeward Drive shortly before 10 p.m. Friday as his family watched.

On Saturday, family members said they were heartbroken. They also said they have a message they want others to hear about the dangers of buying and setting off illegal fireworks.

"So what we’re trying to do is to get those fireworks out of the streets, and especially from that store," Ortiz's nephew Luis said. "For $50, he blows his two hands."

Family members said Ortiz bought the explosive device at a market in San Jose. Police said they are now investigating that store.

In addition to losing his hands, Ortiz also suffered burns on his face and ears.

His mother said she just thanks God that he is alive.

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