TULALIP — After a firework blew a hole in his leg on the 4th of July, Ryan Maughan may never walk normally again.
Maughan, 41, had gone to Boom City Fireworks in Tulalip with his family to watch the night sky light up with explosions.
They didn’t stay long. They were new to the area, having just moved from Wisconsin to a cabin in Arlington. And what they thought was going to be a typical display seemed more like a free-for-all; people had gathered in a field to set off fireworks they just bought, some of which would be illegal if taken off the reservation.
Crowds come out in droves for the annual event, but Maughan called it a “war zone.”
After about 10 minutes, they turned to leave. There was a bright flash. A mortar reportedly lodged into Maughan’s leg and blew up. He looked at his fiancé. “Oh baby, I’m hit,” he recalled saying. He took two steps, fell to the ground and passed out.
He was transported to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, where he underwent multiple surgeries. After he was released, he noticed his wound getting infected.
“I really worried I was going to lose my leg,” he said.
He was admitted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he stayed for about a week. There, doctors performed more procedures — cleaning out more debris, cutting out dead tissue and grafting skin.
Maughan, who arrived home Thursday, gets around with a walker. He has difficulty moving his right leg. He said he lost a chunk of muscle from his thigh, and that his leg likely will never be fully functional again.
His voice broke as he imagined his future.
Maughan said if Boom City continues to host the annual event, that he hopes the organizers will be more proactive in implementing safety measures.
“I loved fireworks up until this point,” he said. “Our plans were to go watch the show, go into the casino, have a drink, have some dinner, gamble a little bit — and in 10 minutes my life was changed.”
Maughan is working with Everett attorneys to explore the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit, alleging that involved parties had neglected basic safety measures. It is not clear who a lawsuit would be filed against.
“This kind of thing doesn’t happen when people are acting reasonably careful,” his attorney, Brian Sullivan, said.