David Jenkins had gone outside to pick up what he thought was a dead piece of fireworks in the early morning hours Friday, when it went off in his hand.
"I went straight into shock," said Jenkins, 37. "I looked at it and went, 'Oh, no.' "
The accident cost him two fingers, but Jenkins said he's in good spirits. He's recuperating at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and he said he's still got one more surgery.
Medford police reported the incident happened around 12:22 a.m. Friday at a home in the 200 block of Mace Road. Jenkins and some friends lit what is called a double-shot mortar, which police said is illegal in Oregon because it explodes.
Under Oregon law, fireworks that explode, fly into the air, travel more than 6 feet horizontally or travel more than 12 inches vertically from the point of ignition are illegal.
Only one of the two embedded explosives went off when Jenkins lit it.
"The other one didn't do anything," Jenkins said.
Jenkins said he went back inside and came back out to pick up the "dud" an hour or so later. Police originally reported that Jenkins lit the remaining portion, but he says that's not true, adding he picked it up with his right hand and it went off unprovoked.
Jenkins said he is left-handed.
After he saw he'd been injured, he told friends to call 911. They did, and used a towel to fashion a tourniquet on the injured hand afterward. Jenkins was originally transported to Providence Medford Medical Center before being transported to OHSU.
Police said they issued Jenkins a $250 citation for using the illegal firework.
Jenkins said doctors were able to save his other fingers, and he said additional therapy should help them further.
"It's not that bad," he said. "It looked a lot worse than it was."
He added several friends have dropped by to wish him well at the hospital, which has helped. He speculated that he'll probably be up north for a couple more days before he's discharged.
He added that he's going to use extra caution around fireworks from now on.
"I'll probably stray from them for a little while," he said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.