Family Cautions About Fireworks Safety After Tenn. Man Dies in Explosion at Backyard Gathering

Matthew Sellars, 35, was holding a firework when it exploded into his chest, authorities said

<p>Getty</p> Fireworks on a street


Fireworks on a street

A Tennessee family is grieving the loss of their loved one and warning about the dangers of fireworks days after he reportedly died in an accident on the Fourth of July.

Matthew Sellars, 35, and two others were handling fireworks at a backyard gathering in Greenback when one exploded into his chest on Thursday evening, witnesses told the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, according to local TV station WATE.

“They were just out there having a good time, and then we couldn’t really see because it was dark, but my husband started yelling for help,” Sellars’ cousin, Hannah Bookout, told the outlet. “We ran out there to help, and when we arrived out there, we saw Matt’s wound.”

Friends and first responders performed CPR but Sellars was pronounced dead at the scene at around 10:30 p.m. local time, the Blount County Sheriff's Office said in a report obtained by the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Related: South Carolina Man Dies After Putting Firework on His Head to 'Show Off,' Says His Wife

A representative with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Bookout recalled the harrowing moments following the accident and shared that the group’s efforts to revive Sellars were fruitless.

“There’s just nothing that we could do, unfortunately,” she said. “We made sure, we tried to make sure, that he knew he wasn’t alone. Of course, we’ll never know what he saw, if he did think, or what happened, really.”

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Neighbor Ben Slack detailed what happened at the scene to local TV station WBIR.

"They sat there for maybe an hour, hour and a half or so, and then they all just kind of started to leave slowly,” Slack said. “After that, the ambulance came by really slowly. So, I knew something pretty bad had probably happened at that point.”

He added, “You hear about this stuff happening. I've never lived near a firework incident like this where, you know, it caused a fatality. So that's definitely something to think about."

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After the tragedy, Bookout is honoring her cousin, who had “the goofiest” demeanor and “the prettiest smile.”

And she is urging others to think about the risks when handling fireworks: “That was the situation here, It was a misfire,” she said.

She added, “Fireworks, as many people know, are dangerous. They’re dangerous, period. No matter if you do them right, some misfire. They can fall over and shoot at people. It’s a risk no matter how you do it, no matter how safely you do it.”

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