A 26-year-old Lowell man died Wednesday night when a fireworks cartridge exploded in his face.
Nicholas Saberniak, 26, of the 17300 block of Jansen Court, died at 11:59 p.m. at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. The office said an official cause of death has not yet been issued.
According to the Lowell police log, Saberniak suffered facial injuries about 8:50 p.m. and was transported to Franciscan St. Anthony Health Care by Tri-Creek EMS. Lowell Police Chief John Shelhart said Saberniak was later airlifted to Advocate.
Shelhart said Saberniak was injured while setting off fireworks at his home.
Saberniak was dropping large fireworks into a homemade mortar-type tube when one went off prematurely and struck him in the face, Shelhart said. No one else was injured during the incident, Shelhart said, and no other fireworks-related injuries were reported to Lowell police.
In a separate incident, a 23-year-old Cedar Lake man was critically injured in a fireworks-related accident Wednesday.
The incident occurred in the 9000 block of 133rd Drive and the man, whose identity was not released, also was transported to Franciscan St. Anthony Health Care and later airlifted to Advocate Christ Medical Center, Cedar Lake Assistant Fire Chief Nick Mager said.
No report on the man’s condition was available Thursday.
Shelhart said Saberniak's accident was the first fireworks-related death since he became chief six years ago.
Saberniak’s father, Thomas, said his son was a Lowell High School graduate and a member of Local 150 Operating Engineers District 7.
“Nick had a zest for life and enjoyed riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle big time with his girlfriend and friends,” Saberniak said. “Everyone who knew him loved him, and he will be sorely missed.”
Shelhart said people should be aware of the dangers fireworks pose.
“It is tragic that he lost his life,” Shelhart said. “We try to stress caution, asking everyone to be careful, but these kinds of things happen.”
Mager said with the extremely dry conditions he recommends people refrain from using fireworks.
“There is great danger with fireworks, especially illegal ones,” he said. “There are many local fireworks shows that are performed by professionals in a controlled environment that residents can attend instead of attempting fireworks displays on their own.”