Man lighting New Year's eve fireworks on the beach near Minerva Road approach has right hand blown off

Headline Surfer® graphic / The arrow in the locator map shows the location on the beach near Minerva Road in Daytona Beach Shores where a man's right hand was blown off while lighting fireworks on the beach on New Year's eve.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

Firecracker incident locator / Headline SurferDAYTONA BEACH SHORES, Fla. -- A 35-year-old man rang in the new year by completely blowing off his right hand while loading fireworks in a canister on the beach near Minerva Road in Daytona Beach Shores, according to multiple media reports.

The victim, Gene Hartwell, and his toddler daughter were covered in blood when he ran to his nearby home with her to have his wife call 9-1-1. Hartwell was subsequently rushed to Halifax Health Medical Center where he received medical attention. The hospital did not release information Friday on Hartwell's condition. 

Attempts by the Volusia County Beach Patrol to try and recover the man's severed hand were unsuccessful. All that was left were fragments in the blood-stained sand. According to an incident report from the Beach Patrol, 35-year-old Gene Hartwell was filling a PVC pipe with powder from other fireworks when it exploded.

Firecracker incident / Headline SurferAttempts by the Volusia County Beach Patrol to try and recover the man's severed hand were unsuccessful. All that was left were fragments in the blood-stained sand. According to an incident report from the Beach Patrol, 35-year-old Gene Hartwell was filling a PVC pipe with powder from other fireworks when it exploded.

 

Bystanders said they didn't see Hartwell because it was pitch black on the beach, but heard the explosion and the unmistakable sounds of human wailing.

"Horrific. It was just a really loud scream. I've never heard someone scream like that," Brayden Smith told WESH TV's Claire Metz.

Lighting off fireworks on the beach is against the law, but thousands of locals do it anyway during holidays like New Years and Fourth of July.

Headline Surfer® confirmed the incident through the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.