Russell and Brandi Truesdel of Batesville held their annual neighborhood fireworks gathering for family and friends on Saturday, July 3. The yearly gathering is something the family looks forward to every summer. But this year, the event ended in tragedy when Russell was struck in his face by a firework.

Almost 100 people were at the Truesdels watching the firework show, but during the show, a mishap happened that no one expected. As Russell prepared to shoot off a firework, another firework exploded, hitting him directly on the right side of his face near his eye. Brandi explained, “Over halfway through it, he was loading another firework into the mortar when he noticed it had already been lit or had not gone off, and it was too late.”The Truesdels’ family friend, Curtis Gillman,  who was with Russell, alerted Brandi Truesdel he was injured. When Brandi got to the bottom of the hill where Russell remained, she could see Russell was bleeding profusely, even in the dark.

“We started walking up to the house, and in the light, I saw he was bleeding terribly, and the damage to his face and specifically his eye was serious,” Brandi explained. “I said ‘call 911.’ Then we went to our neighbors’ garage where we could see.”

Fortunately, friends and neighbors Dan and Dorthea Goris were attending the party and were instrumental in assisting with the situation. Dan is a retired police officer, and his wife, Dorthea, is a nurse at the University of Cincinnati Hospital. Although in shock, Russell was conscious the entire time.
Russell was first taken to Margaret Mary Health by ambulance before being rushed to UC Hospital, where he spent the next 48 hours. Russell has orbital and cheek fractures from the firework force, second-degree burns, and shrapnel on his right cheek.

“His right eye took the brunt of the damage,” Brandi explained. “Russell has burns on his eyelid, iris, cornea, and multiple broken vessels and is under daily observation at the Cincinnati Eye Institute for changes in pressure in his eye.” 

Russell’s burn wounds are expected, but the next few weeks will be a waiting game to see how well his eye will recover. It is 80 percent surface burned, so additional time is needed to assess total damage. Brandi and Russell returned home on Monday, July 5, exhausted but thankful the accident wasn’t any worse. Brandi shared on her social media account that “Russell is perfecting his ‘scarface’ debut and getting his beauty rest.”

The outpouring of love and support from the community is what Brandi has been most thankful for. “Anyone that knows Russell knows he genuinely loves to help people,” Brandi said. “He would do anything for anyone- he is all heart, and to know him is to love him! I believe that is why our friends and family and our community have been so amazing. It does not surprise me - but it does surprise him - because all the kindness and generosity he gives is genuine, and he truly is loved by so many people!”