Disabled Sumter man severely injured when roman candle shot from car ignites home

Police: Resident on oxygen could not get outside on his own


Investigators are seeking information on a New Year's Day fireworks celebration in Sumter that turned tragic when someone shot a roman candle from a car that ignited a home and severely injured a disabled man.

A group of people reportedly in a small black or dark sedan drove down Curtis Drive around noon on Jan. 1 shooting fireworks out of the windows of their moving vehicle, resulting in a house fire near the intersection of Jordan Street, said Ken Bell, public information officer for the Sumter County Sheriff's Office.

A roman candle landed next to the home, causing flames to climb up the side of the structure and spread into the attic, Bell said.

"There was a person inside who, because of a disability, was on oxygen and was unable to get out of the home," he said.

Neighbors reportedly saw the blaze and alerted the fire department after trying to fight the flames themselves but did not realize someone was inside.

The 47-year-old man suffered smoke inhalation and burns, and the home was damaged to the point that it is now unlivable.

"There is no doubt this person would have died had the fire department not rescued him," Bell said.

A relative owns the residence, so the family has also incurred costs to place the man in a convalescent center, Bell said.

Suspects may be charged with shooting fireworks out of a vehicle, which is a misdemeanor, and second-degree arson, Bell said.

The individuals who rode in the vehicle are wanted for questioning, and anyone with information on them or the car is asked to contact Investigator R. Stewart at (803) 436-2040.

Crime Stoppers can also receive tips at 1-888-CRIMESC. Callers can remain anonymous and may qualify for a reward.

"This is just a prime example," Bell said, "of what could happen if you use fireworks in the wrong way."