A 22-year-old who once entertained kids at Disney World died in what his brother calls a "freak accident" on July 4. Devon Staples of Calais, Maine, had been drinking and celebrating the Fourth in a friend's backyard when he set a firework off of his own head, a public safety rep tells the AP. Staples had apparently mentioned pulling off a "stunt," says an investigator for the state's fire marshal, per the Portland Press Herald. "Apparently, he thought that was a great idea," adds the public safety rep. "His friends thought they dissuaded him from doing it, and the next thing they knew, he ignited the fireworks and he was killed instantly." Meanwhile, Staples' brother Cody tells the New York Daily News he was standing feet from his brother and that Devon accidentally set the fireworks off with a lighter in his hand.
"There was no rushing him to the hospital," he tells the paper. "There was no Devon left when I got there. It was a freak accident. … Devon was not the kind of person who would do something stupid. He was the kind of person who would pretend to do something stupid to make people laugh." Cody mentions his brother's previous gig at Disney (a friend posted a pic on Facebook of Staples dressed up as Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, per the Orlando Sentinel), and how at 6 feet 2 and 240 pounds, Devon "was the biggest guy in the group, but he was also the nicest." Maine legalized the sale of fireworks in 2012, and Staples' mother tells the AP she's going to lobby for tighter regulations, suggesting a safety course for would-be purchasers. "At least it'd be a little bit more than, 'Here you go,'" says Kathleen Staples. "They didn't just hand me a license and put me in the car." (Read more fireworks stories.)