SANFORD, Fla. - Doctors are trying to save whatever they can of a Deltona man’s hand, but family members say that’s very little after a firework exploded in his hand inside of a truck.
According to a Volusia County deputy’s report, Corey Waugh was riding in a truck with a friend Sunday morning when a firework ignited inside the vehicle and exploded.
Investigators said it appeared Waugh was holding the firework when it went off.
On Tuesday, Corey’s dad, Brian Waugh, said his son was entering his third surgery at Sanford Regional Hospital.
"He only has a little bit of his pinky,” Brian Waugh said. “About 1/3 of his pinky and about 1/3 of his thumb; everything else is gone."
Brian said Corey also has severe burns and hearing damage from the explosion.
Corey Waugh, the Deltona man whose hand was severed in a fireworks accident. Courtesy: Brian Waugh
While his son has been heavily sedated since the incident, Brian said it’s clear in the brief times he’s been awake that Corey is aware of what happened and the severity of his injuries.
He said those injuries have even taken Corey’s doctors by surprise.
"He [a doctor] did tell me and my wife both that in over 20 years of working on hands that it was by far the worst injury he's ever seen,” Brian said.
What led to the firework exploding in the vehicle is a bit of a gray area at this point.
According to the police report, investigators found evidence that Corey had been holding the firework in one hand and may have actually lit it with a lighter in the other, and a no-delay fuse on that particular firework caused it to explode in his hand.
However, Brian questions that account saying that he’s an avid fireworks user, lighting them off regularly on holidays and that he doesn’t believe the type of fuse being described in the report would be on any fireworks the 27-year-old would have access to.
He also said that Corey grew up around the devices and learned fireworks safety from a young age; not likely to light a firework in his hand or inside a vehicle.
Brian said he’s been led to believe that a rogue cigarette lit the fuse on one of the fireworks in the backseat of the truck and Corey attempted to throw it out the window, but wasn’t fast enough.
Brian said he’s waiting until Corey is coherent enough to get the actual story straight from him.
Regardless of the "how" though, Brian said the reality is that the accident happened and now Corey’s life is about to change forever.
"There's still a possibility that he will need to have an amputation,” Brian said.
Brian said the situation comes as his son was just really getting his life on track as well.
He said Corey is an avid fisherman, outdoorsman and surfer who had just saved up enough and gotten his credit high enough to buy his first home on his own.
Brian Waugh whose son, Corey, was injured in a fireworks explosion
He said Corey was also his field operations lead at the family’s landscaping business, Blue Water Irrigation Incorporated.
Not only will Corey likely have to learn to live life without a hand, but Brian said he’s also about to take on the financial burden of the injury with no insurance.
Corey’s family launched a GoFundMe to help cover the expenses and encourage his supporters to rally around him in this tough time.
"He's just a great guy. He's a free spirit," Brian said. "Everybody that's ever met Corey falls in love with him."
An Army Veteran, himself, Brian said he’s taught his son to be a fighter and is confident he will pull through in time.
However, after a lifetime as a fan of fireworks, Brian said he’s done with the devices after this.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ll never light another firework as long as I live,” he said. “I want to lead by example.”