Improvised firework blows up in OC 10-year-old's hands

A 10-year-old in Orange County is in intensive care with severe injuries caused by an explosion from a possibly improvised firework.

Edther Ocampo was walking home from soccer practice at Stonefield Park in San Juan Capistrano on July 5. He and his brother noticed an unused firework on the ground and took it home. Then, they ignited it but the 10-year-old didn’t have time to let go. It exploded in his hand.

"They thought it was just a firework, something small, but when they lit it, it was a massive explosion," said Amanda Zarate, a family friend. "It seriously injured both boys, but Edther more so. He is in the hospital, ICU, fighting for his life."

As a result of the explosion, the 10-year-old is now missing at least three fingers, has internal damage to his body, and has a giant cut on his face.

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Some believe the improvised firework acted more like a homemade bomb.

"Why is anybody building a bomb here," said Zarate. "We’re not in a war-torn country, and we're maiming kids by leaving explosive devices on the sidewalk. It’s ridiculous."

The boy’s mom, Cynthia Huertas, spoke with FOX 11 via Zoom Wednesday from Edther’s hospital in Orange County.

"It’s been really heartbreaking seeing him like this," said Huertas.

Huertas said the explosion could be heard almost a mile away, causing the bomb squad to respond.

"[Law enforcement officials] think it was some type of firework that was tampered with, part of a bigger one," said Huertas. "The bomb squad went and everything because they weren’t sure [what happened] and how big it was. Now, imagine someone holding it."

The soccer team is now rallying around Edther. According to Zarate, the 10-year-old is in need of a doctor that specializes in hand reconstruction surgery following the explosion.

"There’s a certain doctor out there that knows what to do when a bomb goes off in a child’s hands," said Zarate. "There’s someone out there that can help us."

Edther is expected to need several more surgeries over the next several months. In addition, his parents will likely be forced to miss a lot of work. The family is raising money to aid Edther's recovery. Information on that fundraiser can be found by tapping or clicking here

The 10-year-old, and his team, hope he is back playing soccer soon.

"As a coach, I know which kids have a future," said Luis Zarate, the boy’s coach. "He’s one of them. After I heard what happened, it’s heartbreaking."