Man dies in fireworks accident after mortar shell explodes next to him

The explosion sent shrapnel directly into the man's abdomen.

A man has died in a tragic firework accident after a mortar shell exploded inside of a firework tube, sending shrapnel into the man's body and killing him on-site.

The incident occurred at approximately 12:20 a.m. on Sunday, July 4, in Salamonie Township -- about 95 miles northeast of Indianapolis -- in Huntington County, Indiana. First responders were called to the scene where a man was injured while setting off fireworks, according to a statement from the Huntington County Coroner's Office.

When authorities arrived, they say they found the victim, 41-year-old Steven E. Sims of Hartford City, Indiana, with critical injuries to his abdomen.

The Huntington County Coroner said lifesaving efforts were immediately attempted to save Sims' life, but he ultimately succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

"An initial investigation into the incident determined the mortar shell exploded inside the tube, causing the pressure to breech the side of the tube, and striking the victim," said Huntington County Chief Deputy Coroner Philip Zahm. "An autopsy is being conducted to determine the extent of injury."

Toxicology reports are also pending in this case and the final cause and manner of death will be determined by the outcome of the autopsy, said Zahm.

An investigation into the circumstances surrounding Sims' death is ongoing.

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