VIDEO: Akron man who lost arm in fireworks explosion talks from hospital bed

Victim hopes others learn from his mistakes

AKRON, Ohio - Despite suffering life-changing injuries from a horrific fireworks explosion, Kevin Skubic is quick to offer perspective as he lies in a hospital bed for a second week.

"I'm glad to be here with my family, not have my mom and dad go through burying one of their kids," said Skubic, who is being treated in the burn unit of Akron Children's Hospital.

[VIDEO: Click the player above to watch Bob Jones' full interview with Kevin Skubic. Mobile viewers use this link: ]

On July 1, Skubic went to a home on Grand Avenue and paid $200 for 50 quarter sticks, which are more powerful than M-80s, a large class of firecrackers. Skubic, 34, said he bought the fireworks from 65-year-old Wayne Jones, the same man who had sold him fireworks for several years around the Fourth of July.

But this time, something went terribly wrong. As he walked towards his pickup truck, Skubic noticed the plastic bag containing the quarter sticks was on fire.

"When I threw the bag, it just blew up right in my face," he said.

Skubic sustained blast injuries with shrapnel and flash burns. As paramedics rushed to his side, the father of two girls began to think he was going to die.

"I looked down and my arm was hanging off. I didn't want to go into shock. I just started praying right away," he said.

Skubic was transferred from Akron General Medical Center to Akron Children's Hospital, where he remained on a ventilator for six days. Three days after he woke up, Skubic looked in a mirror and had an immediate thought: "Everything about me is different."

The explosion tore off half of his left arm. On his right hand, half of a finger is cut off. Another finger has pins inside of it. Doctors initially feared Skubic would lose the right arm too, but they were able to save it. It remains heavily bandaged.

"Kevin is lucky to be with us," said Dr. Mark McCollum during a visit to Skubic's room.

Surgeons performed skin grafts, taking skin from his right leg and attaching it to the right arm.

Skubic's vision was also affected. He suffered a partially detached retina in his right eye. He has hearing loss and numerous abrasions on his face.

"I don't even know how I made it through. I look at the video of my truck and the impact it took, and then my body, they're still pulling cardboard out of me everyday," he said.

Jones was charged with manufacturing explosives, unlawful possession of dangerous ordinance, illegal assembly of chemicals/explosives and possession of criminal tools.

After he was released from the Summit County Jail on July 3, Jones denied the charges and said he was storing fireworks that Skubic made.

"I think they're blaming me for what happened to him, but he's a grown man. I didn't have anything to do with it," Jones said after posting a $5,000 bond.

Skubic said Jones is making up a story to cover for the illegal fireworks.

"I never made a firework and I don't know how. I just went over there to buy them like every year... In my head, I think they hoped I would have died," Skubic said.

His motivation to stay strong comes from his two daughters, Kaela, 10, and Kallie, 6.

"They're feeding me and taking care of me," Skubic said, trying to hold back the tears.

He understands there's long road ahead of him, which includes continued physical therapy. In addition, he'll have to learn how to rely more on his right hand once it heals. He was left-handed.

He's also taking responsibility for his decision to buy illegal fireworks and hopes others will learn from his mistake.

"Don't play with fireworks no matter what age you are. It's better to go watch and see them from a distance," he said.

Jones is scheduled to appear in Akron Municipal Court on July 19.

Family and friends said they set up a fund to help Skubic. Donations can be made at any First Merit Bank.

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