A teenager who lost sight in her right eye after a fireworks explosion shared her painful experience Wednesday in an effort to encourage celebrators to be cautious this Fourth of July holiday.
The girl, Erika Rodriguez-Loza, 14, was permanently blinded after fireworks exploded in her right eye at an Independence Day barbecue in 2011.
Fourth of July: Professional Fireworks Shows in SoCal
Local news from across Southern California
“You could hear a loud noise and I started screaming,” she said. “A spark went into my eye.”
The blast burned Rodriguez-Loza’s optic nerve, stripping her of the ability to see out of her right eye.
"I can’t even ride my bike because my mom thinks it’s too dangerous for me,” Rodriguez-Loza said through tears.
She along with her mother and doctors spoke at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on Wednesday to encourage Fourth of July celebrators to take extra precautions.
“Keep kids well away if you’re going to do a show,” said Dr. Jeffrey Upperman of Children’s Hospital LA. “Only adults should be around where they’re going to like these.”
The most frequent fireworks injuries are burns in the face, hands and eyes caused by sparklers that are more than 100 degrees, Upperman said.
Children are often seen in the emergency room for fireworks-related injuries such as damage to the eyes from bottle rockets, third-degree burns from sparklers, and trauma -- usually on the hands -- from explosive fireworks, according to a release from the Children’s Hospital LA.