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File photo

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HEBRON — Investigators said Friday the mortar used in the fireworks-related death of 37-year-old Scott McKee is legally available to consumers, according to preliminary findings.

Hebron Police Chief Josh Noel confirmed the incident occurred after McKee and another man were lighting off mortars July 7 at a neighbor's house. McKee was placing a mortar into the tube when it exploded prematurely and struck him in the head, police said. 

After completing a preliminary investigation, police believe the mortar used that day is consumer-grade. The revelation follows speculation in the community and on social media that the firework behind the fatality was commerical grade and therefore illegal for general public use.

Porter County Sheriff Public Information Officer Sgt. Jamie Erow also confirmed no illegal or homemade fireworks were used during the fatal mishap. 

The Hebron Police Department is working with the Porter County Bomb Squad to confirm these preliminary reports and finalize the investigation. 

As of Friday afternoon, more than $28,000 of a $32,00 goal has been raised in support of McKee's family on GoFundMe

Last year, 238 fireworks-related injuries were reported to the Indiana State Department of Health, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said.

More than 30 percent of cases involved people 18 and younger, 30 percent were burns to the hands and fingers, 11.7 percent involved eye injuries and 49 percent were caused by firecrackers, rockets and sparklers.

Malfunctioning or mishandling of fireworks accounted for nearly 57 percent of reported injuries, and 61.3 percent of cases involved use of fireworks on private property.

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