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Celebrations leave one dead, two critically injured and lots of litter

Debris left behind in the 1800 block of West Augusta, where residents blocked the street to set off their fireworks. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Unofficial fireworks celebrations across the Chicago area left at least one person dead, and two people with mangled hands.

And then there was the usual debris left strewn across parks, lawns and streets on Wednesday morning.

The man who died was hit in the face by an exploding firework as he peeked inside a mortar tube to figure out why nothing was coming out of it.

David Griffin, 42, was struck in the face Tuesday about 9:30 p.m. in an alley in the 2500 block of West 54th Street in the Gage Park neighborhood, authorities said.

Griffin, who lived in the same neighborhood, was taken to Holy Cross Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:54 p.m., authorities said.

An autopsy Wednesday found Griffin died of craniocerebral injuries from fireworks, and ruled the death an accident, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Two other men were critically injured when fireworks exploded in their hands late Tuesday and early Wednesday in separate incidents on the West and Northwest sides.

A man in his 40s was holding a firework when it detonated about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday in the 4600 block of West Belmont in the Kilbourn Park neighborhood, according to the Chicago Fire Department. He was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in critical condition.

More celebrants left this litter behind near Waveland and Sacramento. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times
More celebrants left this litter behind near Waveland and Sacramento. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

And in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood, a man in his 30s suffered a “severe hand injury” about 11 p.m. Tuesday when a firework exploded in his hand in the 4300 block of West Cortez, fire officials said. He was taken to Stroger Hospital, also in critical condition.

The city says it will not send additional crews to sweep up the shredded and singed remains of thousands of fireworks.

Sara McGann, spokeswoman for the Department of Streets and Sanitation, said a top deputy told her “there are no egregious situations out there and and everything has been pretty much cleaned up.”

The city is relying on its regular rotation of street sweepers to pick up the mess.

Anyone with specific complaints should call 311 for additional service.

It’s an option the folks on the 1800 block of West Augusta might want to utilize after residents brazenly blocked the street, which is not a side street, to light off loads of fireworks Tuesday night in Ukrainian Village.

Stopped motorists waited for intervals of peace to pass by.

On Wednesday morning, a large pile of spent fireworks shells, beer cans were tossed near the mouth of the alley and shredded paper littered the street and sidewalk.

More celebrants left this litter behind near Waveland and Sacramento. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times
More celebrants left this litter behind near Waveland and Sacramento. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times