Cody Ryalls of Tacoma is sharing what happened to him, hoping it won't happen to someone else. Fireworks took his left arm and very nearly his career.
“I was just holding my arm and just praying, ‘please don’t let it be as bad as I think it is,’” recalled Ryalls.
In the past year fireworks have injured at least 350 people in our state. Last New Year’s Eve, Ryalls was one of them.
“It was about a brick to a brick-and-a-half of sparklers. I think when I grabbed it and turned it sideways, a spark jumped to the main stack and then went off.”
"It blew my hand through the next door neighbor's fence, it made a hole in their fence," he said.
Ryalls is now fitted with a prosthetic, robotic arm. “I call it my terminator hand.”
It helps him do his job as a mechanic, but Ryalls says it’s not the same.
“Just the dexterity you have with your fingers that can’t ever be replicated," he said.
Doing a job he can no longer do alone. His dad helps out in his shop now, as Ryalls works to get out the word this fourth of July, knowing hindsight is 20/20.
“I’ve thought all sorts of times—I could’ve not done it. It just shows you how easily it can happen. And there’s a reason they’re illegal," he said.
Ryalls admits his car repair business has been slow and may not make it. He is now looking for a fulltime job, and hopes to continue working on cars on the side.