A Parkers Prairie man is waiting for a new eye after losing his left one in a fireworks accident on July 4.
“I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not lighting them off any more,” said Charles Johnson, 26.
He and Dottie Vanscoy, their three young children, and a friend had gone to the public landing on Lake Adley to set off ground fireworks, the kind that go only a few feet in the air.
He was using a long-handled lighter to light the fuse on the box when it exploded in his face. Thinking he might be on fire, he told Vanscoy to call 911 and jumped into the lake. Vanscoy, not knowing what his face might look like when he emerged, hustled their kids into the truck and then went to help him. He got out of the lake and they used his T-shirt to cover his eye, which was obviously badly injured. Nearby campers wrapped him with a blanket while they waited for the ambulance.
Johnson said the ambulance brought him to Alexandria, where medical staff put him on a helicopter to Fargo. Doctors in Fargo were unable to help him, so they flew him to the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. Doctors were unable to save his eye.
He said he is expecting to get a prosthetic eye in a couple of months, after the swelling subsides. He also has burns on his face and thumb.
“I’m just glad he’s alive,” Vanscoy said. “All I seen was he went to go light a firework. He went to light a fuse and it just blew up. It almost went off like a bomb.”
The two are staying with family in the Twin Cities and plan to return home this week.
“If anyone is lighting off fireworks, just wear safety glasses,” Johnson said. “In a blink of an eye you could be missing one.”
Johnson is a familiar face in Vining, where he has cooked at Big Foot Gas & Grocery for the better part of five years. He was also in the middle of rehabbing a trailer home for his family in Parkers Prairie which isn’t yet winterized.
A friend set up a GoFundMe account for the family, although Johnson said some of the information in it needs to be updated. The friend was not aware that his family does have health insurance, he said. The GoFundMe request is for $250,000, which Johnson and Vanscoy said is more than they need. However, any money raised will help cover lost wages while he is out of work, as he is the family’s sole breadwinner.
To see more, visit GoFundMe.com and search for Vining or Charles Johnson.