Fourth of July: Wake County family who lost child to fireworks warns others about dangers

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Fourth of July is a happy time for many. But for one Triangle family, there is some lingering sadness.

Three-year-old Michael Shannon, of Cary, died around Independence Day in 1991, when he was hit by a defective firework.

Michael's father, Jack, mother, Robin, and sister Stephanie Pascale share his story to try to prevent others from being injured or killed from fireworks.

Last year, there were 12 fireworks-related deaths and 10,000 injuries nationwide, according to the

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"It's a privilege to honor Michael and to keep his memory alive and to help somebody else stay safe, whether it's a major burn or whether it's even worse," Jack Shannon said.

There are less risky ways to show patriotism, Pascale said.

"I think you should celebrate our country but there are so many ways that we could do it that may not cause stress or anxiety to your neighbor, who might be a veteran who has PTSD, from those types of noises, or your animals, who might be crying or panicking throughout the night, let alone the injuries that can happen," Pascale said.

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With many fireworks shows canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are lighting their own fireworks. Fireworks complaints in Raleigh are up more than six times this year. It's against North Carolina law to use any firework that explodes or is projected into the air.

During the holiday weekend, the Shannons will remember Michael with love.

"Coming home from work, there was this lovely, little child who always ran to greet you with love," Jack Shannon said, getting emotional. "And those are the kinds of things and it may not be that memory but there are those kinds of memories that we have of Michael and how sweet, loving, outgoing he was."

Pascale added: "We just kind of hug each other a little bit tighter and we just spend time together doing memories that would honor him but also are safe."

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