CHICAGO --A barber who lost his hand in a firework's accident in Chicago's Portage Park neighborhood only for part of it to be retrieved by a dog is issuing a warning to his neighbors.
Cheri Steigert says it was 3:30 p.m. Thursday when she heard an explosion and then an excruciating scream.
"It was the most terrifying scream. And you know when you hear something like that, something bad happened," Steigert said.
The scream was because 39-year-old Rafat Shejaeya blew his hand off with a firework in the alleyway. He was rushed to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, where he spoke to ABC7 Eyewitness News on the phone Friday afternoon about the accident.
"I remember looking at my hand and there was no hand there. No fingers, no nothing," Shejaeya said.
Paramedics were able to locate two of his fingers in the alley and put them on ice. But hours after the accident, the majority of Shenaeya's hand was still missing until it was discovered by Steigert's dog.
"Three hours later, I let my dog out in the yard and she comes back trotting with something in her mouth. I actually realized before picking it up it was part of the man's hand. It had flown from across the street into our yard," she said.
Sheyaeya says he may recover some use of his hand, but he's unsure of how much or if he'll ever be able to return to his work as a barber. From his hospital room, he is warning other people who might want to play with fireworks this holiday to think twice.
"I'd tell them to be careful," he said.
Chicago police echo his warning, saying fireworks accidents like these are all too common during the summer and especially over July 4th weekend. Police say 45 fireworks accidents were reported in 2014, while 25 incidents were reported in 2015.