KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
July 2, 2022
By Natalie Cook Clark
A 17-year-old Katy teen suffered a life changing firework injury last Fourth of July and now his family is using their experience to warn others.
Nate Watson was severely injured last Fourth of July in a firework accident. Photo credit: David Watson.
Teen Son Knew Fireworks
“He’d grown up around fireworks and knew how powerful they are,” says Katy Dad David Watson.
The Watson family lives in Jordan Ranch. At the time of the accident, Nate Watson was a student at Raines High School working ahead in his studies to graduate early. He wanted to become Navy Seabee Construction Mechanic. This, like many of his plans, all changed in a flash.
A Mortar Shell Firework Fired at Him
“I had just laid down in bed and heard him yell Dad,” recalls David.
Nate Watson and his girlfriend were shooting fireworks off in the street. His dad says that he rushed into the house with blood pouring out of his arm. He had put a mortar shell in the tube and lit it. The firework went off and flew at him. His arm was severely injured when the round hit him as he shielded his face.
David Watson has been a paramedic for 30 years and his wife is a trauma nurse. The Katy parents worked to treat their son while they waited for paramedics to arrive.
“I’ve seen firework injuries, and this gave me a new perspective on that,” says David.
Photo credit: David Watson
Serious Arm Damage
Nate broke his forearm. His wrist was severely lacerated, and all those bones were obliterated. He spent days in the hospital and had surgery to put two rods in his arm and clean out debris in his wrist. Artificial skin was surgically placed over the wound until they could do a skin graph a month later.
Nate still has limited mobility and can only lift his wrist about 23 degrees. His plans to graduate early and become a mechanic for the Navy were gone. He is now working to finish his last semester of high school and is unsure about his future plans.
“People think he was just playing around and that wasn’t the case at all,” says David.
The Watsons encourages families to rethink firing off fireworks, regardless of the ages of your children.
“It is better to let the professionals do the fireworks,” says David. “This could happen to anyone.”
Local fire departments are preparing to respond to firework related fires this Fourth of July just as hospitals prep for firework related injuries.
The Watsons say that when Nate was in the hospital last July, they heard of another Katy resident being admitted for a firework related injury.
Nate now deals with PTSD after his accident. On New Year’s Eve they sought out an area that banned fireworks so that they could get away from the noise. The family plans to do the same thing this Fourth of July.
A Story to Share
“We have to find the good in things,” says David. “We have a story to share to help others.”
Fireworks have always been banned in the City of Katy but are allowed in surrounding communities in Harris, Fort Bend, and Waller Counties.
This year, local authorities are expressing concern over the current drought and how the situation could increase the risk of grass and brush fires. Learn more about how to safely approach fireworks this season.
Firework Safety Tips
Open Area and Distance - Set off fireworks in an open area, not up against a house. Fireworks cannot be set off within 600 feet of a school (even if it's not in session,) church, hospital or gas station.
Read the Instructions - Ask questions when purchasing your fireworks.
Impaired Judgment - Be responsible and let those adults not drinking light the fireworks.
Water source - ALWAYS have a water source nearby and douse everything before throwing it
Not for Children - Fireworks should only be handled by adults.
Still, the only way to guarantee no firework injuries or fires is to abstain. Katy offers numerous events where residents can see professional fireworks.
“We are lucky that our son is alive,” says David.