Arafat Silmi, 19, of 165 Fairway Circle, was in the passenger seat of a vehicle being driven by a 16-year-old River Road boy. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office determined a co-worker was following the driver, of Norwalk, on Ohio 2 near Berlin Road when the incident happened about 9:30 a.m. The trio were returning to Monroeville from their job site in Vermilion Township.
“He (Silmi) received extensive injuries to his hand,” Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said. “His condition is stable.”
After the mortar launching tube exploded in Silmi’s left hand, the driver attempted to go to Fisher-Titus Medical Center. However, he pulled off at the Milan Township fire station at the intersection of U.S. 250 and Ohio 13 due to the extent of Silmi’s injury.
North Central EMS transported Silmi from the station to the helicopter base just up the road on U.S. 250. From there, a LifeFlight helicopter flew him to the University of Toledo Medical Center for treatment.
“It is my understanding he had surgery (Tuesday), but I have no further information,” Sigsworth said.
At the fire station, Sigsworth and a deputy interviewed the co-workers and took photographs of the interior of the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer driven by the Norwalk boy. Silmi was a passenger in the Blazer. According to the report, a deputy arrived after the sheriff and saw Silmi clutching his left hand, explosion-related damage to the passenger door and nearby areas of the Blazer, “a considerable amount of blood throughout the passenger compartment of the vehicle” and “small droplets of blood” on the front of the other truck.
The driver of the Blazer reported Silmi gave him the fireworks Monday while they were working in Monroeville, but he told the deputy he was unsure where Silmi got them. The driver agreed to take the fireworks and he put five mortar balls in his center console and the mortar launching tube behind his front seat, according to the incident report.
During the ride back from the Vermilion Township work site Tuesday, “Silmi wanted to launch one of the mortar balls out of the vehicle back toward (the other) vehicle in attempts to scare (him),” according to the report. They were westbound on Ohio 2 near Berlin Road at the time.
The Blazer driver said he heard the mortar tube “go off” after Silmi held out of the passenger window, according to the report. About that time, the motorist realized Silmi was injured and exited Ohio 2 onto Ohio 13.
The other driver said while he was westbound on Ohio 2 he “heard a loud explosion and then the sound of items hitting the front of his truck,” according to the report. He was unsure what happened.
“The matter remains under investigation,” Sigsworth said Wednesday.
As a precautionary measure, the Lorain County bomb squad responded to the fire station.
“There were other mortar shells in the vehicle. They were removed,” Sigsworth said, referring to commercially manufactured fireworks.
After interviewing the boys, a deputy went to the Sandusky Fireworks SuperStore. An employee checked the computers, but didn’t find any fireworks Silmi had purchased there.
Sigsworth was asked if there was a possibility of any charges being filed.
“That will be decided by the prosecutor once all the facts are known,” the sheriff said.