Fireworks company Pyrotecnico initiates probe into Apollo mishap
By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
The head of the company that put on Apollo's Fourth of July fireworks show is having a hard time believing that the shell that injured spectators came from its display.
New Castle-based Pyrotecnico is starting its own investigation into the Thursday incident at Owens Field “because ballistically, a lot of things don't add up,” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Vitale said on Monday.
Brooke Wright, 14, of Kiski Township suffered burns to her legs in an apparent explosion in or near the stands during the Apollo Salute to the Armed Forces program. She went home Friday after being treated in the burn unit at UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh.
Two other children were treated and released from Allegheny Valley Hospital, Harrison, spokeswoman Linda Dalak said. Their identifies were not released. No other injuries were known.
Wright's mother, Lisa Culp, referred questions to her attorney, Mark Milsop, with the Pittsburgh firm Berger and Green, which specializes in injury and disability cases. Milsop did not respond to a request for comment.
Apollo Mayor Karen Kenzevich said borough police are investigating the incident but are waiting for a report from Pyrotecnico.
Vitale said Pyrotecnico's safety team and insurance company are investigating the incident. He said his firm will bring in independent investigators with experience in ballistics, fireworks and “these types of incidents.”
A Pyrotecnico technician was launching the fireworks from a baseball field adjacent to the stadium, nearly 500 feet away from the bleachers, Vitale said. He said the mortars were aimed away from the crowd.
The technician was not aware of any malfunctions at the firing site, and the show continued and concluded, Vitale said.
“From our standpoint, a lot isn't adding up. We're struggling to believe it came from the fireworks display,” Vitale said. “There were no catastrophic detonations of product sent into the crowd. The distance between the incident and the actual fireworks location was far beyond the safety boundaries that are required.”
Vince Mazzon, chairman of the Apollo Salute to the Armed Forces committee, did not return a call for comment.
Vitale said his company hopes to have its investigation completed within a week or two. The company has said it will share its findings with the public.
“We want to get to the bottom of it, and we will,” Vitale said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kiski Valley authority manager resigns
- Oakmont councilman pushes for answers in vandalism of surveillance cameras
- Pittsburgh-area drivers roll with rising pump prices
- Deer Lakes board cuts elementary counselors
- Classes resume after Leechburg Area bomb threat
- Woman struck by car in New Kensington bar’s parking lot
- Just-acquired Harrison tract eyed as commercial site
- Deer Lakes School District crafts tentative budget, but contract issues unresolved
- 4-year-old’s death from brain cancer won’t stop fight in her name
- Instagram builds Oakmont barber’s rep for innovative cuts, ‘hair tattooing’
- Highlands school board approves turf, track for Golden Rams Stadium