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Erika Rodriguez, South L.A. 12-Year-Old, Blinded by 'Firework Lodged in Eye Socket'

A little girl from South L.A. who had been playing with a sparkler at a late-night Fourth of July house party -- and who was then blasted in the face with return fire, probably from a bottle rocket -- has lost all sight in her right eye, City News Service reports.

The night of the incident, the L.A. City Fire Department wrote that 12-year-old Erika Rodriguez "had been in front of her home using a sparkler -- also illegal in Los Angeles -- when another person discharged an illegal 'firecracker-like' device near her face, impaling her right eye."

She was immediately transported to the Children's Hospital, where surgeon Thomas Lee told City News he "did surgery to remove the firework that was lodged in her eye socket. As a result of the injury, she unfortunately will be permanently blind in her right eye."

Certainly gives new weight to the maternal "poke your eye out" warning.

Dr. Lee added a good finger-wagging to his statement today, as well: "She was fortunate that the left eye did not suffer any damage from the firework explosion," he said.

KCAL9 was on location in the 600 block of West 42nd Place Tuesday morning, where they talked to neighbors who had witnessed kids at the party setting off 'works the night before. And judging by the remains still littering the street, bottle rockets and sparklers flowed as freely for the sugar-high youngins as celebration ale did for their parents.

Here's what a bottle-rocket fight looks like, in case you've never had the pleasure:

The night of the accident, amid record volumes of 911 calls -- both medical and fire-related -- it took six city firefighters "to stabilize the injury while providing emotional care to the patient and her family," according to the department.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]


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