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Ferndale teen’s hand amputated after fireworks explosion

Austin Oswald of Ferndale lost his hand in a fireworks explosion early Saturday, July 9, 2016, two days before his 17th birthday.
Austin Oswald of Ferndale lost his hand in a fireworks explosion early Saturday, July 9, 2016, two days before his 17th birthday. Courtesy to the Bellingham Herald

A Ferndale High School student lost his hand in a fireworks accident last weekend.

The boy suffered injuries when a firework exploded around 2 a.m. Saturday, July 9, at a home in the 5700 block of Vista Drive, according to firefighters with Whatcom Fire District 7. The explosion singed his eyebrows, damaged an eardrum, and caused burns to his hands and chest.

Austin Oswald, 17, told his best friend, Kielan Lynch, the firework went off right after he lit it.

“As soon as he went to light the wick, he said everything just turned bright yellow,” Lynch said. “He knew he was messed up because he couldn’t feel his hand.”

Oswald was rushed to Harborview Medical Center, where surgeons amputated his right hand.

Lynch, 17, talked with Oswald daily at the Seattle hospital through the FaceTime phone app. The boys consider each other brothers: Oswald grew up homeless, at times, and he lived with Lynch’s family for a few years while in junior high. Lynch, meanwhile, underwent treatment for a rare liver cancer.

“He’s been with me through all of my medical stuff,” Lynch said.

Now, he said, he’s trying to be there for Oswald, who still had his sense of humor as he recovered in the hospital, Lynch said. They joked about filling in his missing eyebrows with a Sharpie pen.

Oswald, a senior-to-be at Ferndale High School, went home from the Seattle hospital on Monday, his 17th birthday.

Ferndale police responded to the explosion, but turned over the scene to the fire department when it became clear no foul play was suspected, said city spokesman Riley Sweeney. No official police report was written.

Ben Boyko, a division chief for Whatcom Fire District 7, confirmed that a teenage boy was hurt by fireworks and rushed to the hospital with a severe hand injury. Health care privacy laws prevented him from releasing other details.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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