Fire­works folly

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

AN ACT of stu­pid­ity by a group of Mt Roskill stu­dents has left 18-year-old Inia Li­u­fau with scars for life.

On Novem­ber 11 last year Inia and his friends were walk­ing across the field of Mt Roskill Gram­mar School.

An­other group of stu­dents, un­known to Inia, were also cross­ing the field while play­ing with fire­works.

“Some­one chucked it – I saw it com­ing and caught it,” he says. “I heard my mates say: ‘Some­thing is com­ing’.”

As a rugby player, Inia’s re­flex was to catch the fire­work that was thrown.

But when it went off he se­verely in­jured his left hand.

“The mus­cle was hang­ing out – it was dead mus­cle,” he says.

Inia was taken to Auck­land Hospi­tal and trans­ferred to Mid­dle­more later that night.

Two months on, the Mt Roskill teenager has been left with two scars across his palm and he wears a sup­port bandage over his hand.

“I have to stretch it for the mus­cle to grow,” he says.

The ac­ci­dent is frus­trat­ing for him be­cause he hasn’t used fire­works since he was 11.

“I find it bor­ing,” he says. “I didn’t even have fire­works.”

He says the group of stu­dents re­spon­si­ble for the ac­ci­dent came to his house while he was in hospi­tal to see if he was all right.

Mid­dle­more burns sur­geon Am­ber Moaz­zam treated Inia af­ter the ac­ci­dent.

“It was an open lac­er­a­tion of the thumb and the mus- cles were hang­ing out. Luck­ily he didn’t dam­age any of the bones in his hand. When he came in I was a bit wor­ried that he had lost a lot of soft tis­sue.”

Mr Moaz­zam says staff dis­cov­ered that of two blood ves­sels dam­aged, one was still work­ing.

“He lost 70 per­cent of the mus­cle – it’s quite an im­por­tant mus­cle. It could have been worse – he could have lost his thumb or in­dex fin­ger.”

He says the in­jury may mean stiff­ness and re­duced func­tion in Inia’s hand.

Mr Moaz­zam says sparklers aren’t too bad but fire­works that shoot out and have the pos­si­bil­ity of fall­ing over from a stand are the most danger­ous.

Auck­land Burn Sup­port Group pres­i­dent Ge­orge Stephens says it is sad to hear sto­ries like Inia’s.

“One of the as­pects that the Fire Ser­vice has been pro­mot­ing is no fire­work sales to the pub­lic. There is a mi­nor­ity that acts ir­re­spon­si­bly and as a con­se­quence an in­no­cent vic­tim suf­fers.”

He hopes the com­mu­nity will sup­port pub­lic fire­works dis­plays in­stead.

Mr Stephens says in 2009 there was a re­duc­tion in fire­work im­por­ta­tion and he be­lieves this year the trend will con­tinue.

“We don’t want to take all the fun out of life. But by the same to­ken there are con­se­quences and safer, cheaper al­ter­na­tives.”

Inia in­tends play­ing rugby again when the sea­son starts in April and plans to join the po­lice in the March in­take.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Re­cov­er­ing: Mt Roskill teen Inia Li­u­fau was treated for burns at Mid­dle­more Hospi­tal af­ter he caught a fire­work that was thrown at him.

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