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4th of July Firework Beheads Fargo Man

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on July 08, 2011 9:44 AM

Jesse William Burley was decapitated by fireworks in a freak Fourth of July accident over the holiday weekend.

Burley, 41, of Fargo, North Dakota, was lighting large fireworks in his neighborhood, reports MSNBC.

One of his neighbors, Chris Hanson, had spoken to Burley minutes before the accident. He had already set off one large firework that caused a large bang and set off visible shockwaves from the area, reports MSNBC. It was the second set of fireworks that turned out to be fatal.

Burley took another firework, went to the middle of the street, and lit it. Hanson said he saw smoke and a bang, and when he walked up to Burley's body all he saw was "nothing but shoulders down," MSNBC reports.

The grisly accident claimed Burley's life, who is the father of two young children, ages 2 and 3, according to MSNBC.

Police are fairly sure that the fireworks Burley lit were commercial grade and are federally regulated fireworks. Hanson said Burley had invited him over to his trailer earlier to show him the fireworks, which had a warning label that read "if found please report to the U.S. government."

Many fireworks are illegal. Depending on the state, all fireworks may be banned. And, even if some fireworks are legal to be purchased in a state, states have usually imposed minimum ages before people are able to purchase fireworks.

Police still are unsure as to what caused the accident that claimed Burley's life. It could either have been operator error, or some manufacturing defect with the firework itself.

Jesse William Burley's stepfather said that the man enjoyed his life to the fullest and was good-hearted, reports MSNBC. While Burley's death was grisly - getting decapitated by fireworks - it also illustrates the danger of operating fireworks.

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