A teenager walking home from school Wednesday was hurt when she stepped on a lit firecracker that had been thrown on the ground by a couple of teens walking ahead of her.
The 16-year-old was walking along Santa Diana Road near Santa Alexia Avenue just before 3 p.m. when she spotted the object, which she thought was a burning leaf. The area is blocks away from a community park and near two elementary schools.
As the teen stepped on the object to put it out, the firecracker exploded, seriously injuring the teen’s foot, the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) said
CVPD Capt. Vern Sallee said the teen was taken to the UC San Diego Medical Center where she had to undergo surgery to her right foot. She is expected to recover.
CVPD arson investigators and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) Bomb/Arson Unit determined the explosive was a commercially-made firecracker that posed no further threat to the public. The firecracker was in the shape of a flat triangle.
According to investigators, the victim – who is a student at Otay Ranch high School – said she had seen two teenage boys walking ahead of her moments before the firecracker explosion, but thought nothing of it.
Chula Vista School Resource Officers and investigators were able to track down those two minors and, after interviewing them, determined the teen who threw the firecracker on the ground didn’t do so to intentionally hurt the victim.
The teen told police he didn’t know the victim was walking behind them and didn’t know she had been hurt by the firecracker. He told police he had gotten the firecracker from another juvenile who goes to another school.
When officers found that third teenager, they determined the firecracker had been legally purchased in Arizona but illegally brought to Chula Vista. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Bomb/Arson Unit found more fireworks in the juvenile’s possession and ceased the explosives.
The CVPD said this case serves as a reminder to the public about the dangers of firecrackers. All forms of firecrackers and explosive devices are illegal in San Diego County.
In addition to hurting others, firecrackers could spark fires, especially in dry conditions often experienced in San Diego County. The police department warned parents to not allow their children to buy, use or own fireworks of any kind.
“Possession of fireworks is a misdemeanor and can sometimes be a felony depending on circumstances,” Salle said.
At any time, fireworks can be handed over to the police or fire departments for proper disposal; those who surrender their fireworks to authorities will not face prosecution for possession, the CVPD said.
Investigators will submit the case to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office for review and consideration of charges. The juvenile suspects were not identified, given their ages.