WALLED LAKE (CBS Detroit) Police say a 47-year-old man died Sunday in Walled Lake when a large mortar fireworks shell he was holding next to his head exploded.

A mortar shell is typically about the size of a softball. They’re put together ahead of time and inserted into a tube from which they’re launched. Many types of mortars and other aerial fireworks were banned in Michigan until 2012 when the legislature loosened restrictions under public pressure to allow larger, typically considered more dangerous fireworks.

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In this case of a firework gone wrong, the man’s family was “devastated” when the deadly incident unfolded in front of them at about 9:14 p.m. Sunday at a home on the 1500 block of Quinif Drive, according to Walled Lake Police Chief Paul Shakinas.

Shakinas said, when first responders arrived, they found the man unresponsive, not breathing, and suffering from severe trauma to the back of his head.

“Hands down, the worst I’ve ever seen,” Shakinas said. “I’ve seen (fireworks) accidents, but never causing a fatality. He was pronounced dead at the scene.”

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Alcohol was a factor, the chief said, and the man may not have realized the firework had been lit.

Michigan law allows consumer fireworks the day before, on the actual Fourth of July holiday, and the day after. Shakinas said, however, no one was cited in this case.

“The individual is deceased, so we’re not gonna issue a ticket to him,” Shakinas said. “But we would just remind everyone that alcohol and fireworks do not mix.”

Shakinas said there were other people around, but he does not believe the man’s children witnessed the accident.

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An investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office is ongoing.