Kevin Skubic, an Akron man who lost an arm in a fireworks explosion, warns kids about dangers

AKRON, Ohio - On a hot summer day at Water Works Aquatic Center in Cuyahoga Falls, a crowd of kids took a break from swimming, gathered around Kevin Skubic and listened intently.

"I had a bad accident with fireworks last year. I used to have two arms too," Skubic said calmly.

Skubic lost his left arm, below his elbow, when quarter sticks in a bag blew up shortly after he purchased the firecrackers from Wayne Jones on Grand Avenue in Akron on July 1, 2013.

It's not clear what caused the blast, but police speculated it could have been the result of a static electricity. Skubic said it's also possible that a cigarette, discarded from a friend not long before the explosion, could have caused the accident.

"It's a good thing that nobody else got hurt. There were a lot of kids around there that day."

A few months ago, Skubic started using an electric prosthetic arm, but he takes it off when he goes swimming. That leads to stares from children and an opportunity for Skubic to warn the youngsters about the potential dangers of fireworks.

"They're always fun to watch, but you should stay away from them though. Don't light them," the 35-year-old man told the the kids at the pool complex.

Kevin said he suffers from bouts of depression, but coming to the pool with his two daughters, Kaela, 11, and Kallie, 7, gives him a much needed lift.

Kaela, who is going into sixth grade, said she's proud of her father for teaching kids to stay away from fireworks. "He has helped me through everything in my life. If I didn't have him, everything would be different," she said.

Skubic had four surgeries, the amputation, eye surgery and two skin grafts, and a year later he continues to deal with nerve and phantom pain. He also has hearing loss in his right ear and foggy vision in his right eye.

He was left-handed, so learning how to write with his right hand has been a difficult challenge. Getting acclimated to the prosthetic arm, which also has a claw attachment, is a work in progress.

"I can drink with it. I can scratch my head again. I pull up my socks, my pants, everything," he said.

He expects that he will be sad on the one-year anniversary of the horrific accident, but he tries to remain focused on the positive aspects of his life, like spending time with his daughters and working towards his goal of getting back to his job as a bricklayer.

He already has started riding his motorcycle again, a goal he wanted to complete before July 1, 2014.

"It's like being born again... I'm just glad to kind of be here right now."

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