11-year-old loses hand to illegal explosive she mistook for a sparkler, no charges filed

An 11-year-old girl had her hand amputated after what she thought was a firework blew up as she held it.

Caitlyn Conway lost four fingers in the explosion on Superior Street in River Rouge last Thursday

She and her twin sister found an illegal explosive that was larger than an M-80 in their home and lit it up, thinking it was a type of sparkler, according to police. Caitlyn tried to put it out in the sink, and then attempted to run out of the house with it – but it exploded in her hand.

As a result, her right hand and part of her forearm had to be amputated.

"She’s very loving, very (out)going," the girl's father, Ronald Findley, told FOX 2. "She seems like she’s in good spirits, but you know how that is; it’s a mental aspect. I don’t know what the emotional effect is going to be with my daughter because… she’s younger." 

Caitlyn Conway, 11, at the hospital after an illegal explosive accident that took place on Thursday, June 27, 2024.

Caitlyn also suffered a ruptured ear drum.

An adult woman was asleep on the couch at the time of the explosion; the twins' mother was away at work, according to police. Caitlyn ran to their neighbor for help, who wrapped a tourniquet around her hand before first responders showed up.

"She has been discharged from the hospital at this point in time. She has a long road to recovery," said Detective Joshua Smith with River Rouge police. "We spoke with the mother. She has a follow-up doctor visit in the next couple of days."

Her twin sister sustained minor cuts and bruises from the debris of the explosion.

Extensive structural damage to the rental home has made it uninhabitable, according to police. They are now in the process of finding a new place to live.

Meanwhile, police are trying to help Caitlyn and her family during the healing process.

"We felt for this family. This was a tragic incident. We set up a GoFundMe account on behalf of the family to basically give them resources to… help them through this long journey," Smith said.

So far, the GoFundMe has raised a little over $2,000. The money will go to helping the family with medical expenses and housing needs.

Smith said Wayne County declined to press charges against the twins' grandfather, who bought the explosive and left it in plain view, unsupervised. He was arrested on Friday, a day after the incident, and then released.

"The remaining material from the (explosive) is in the process of being sent to Michigan State Police Laboratory for additional testing," according to River Rouge police. 

Police are still investigating the incident.

"It’s not all about taking the bad guys to jail. It’s about being a public service," Smith said. "And when we saw the result of this, we rushed immediately to find additional resources to help this family." 

To donate to the family's GoFundMe, click here.


Grandfather arrested after 11-year-old loses fingers in fireworks accident

The grandfather of an 11-year-old girl was arrested after she lost four fingers in a fireworks accident in River Rouge on Thursday. He could face charges, as police believe he bought the fireworks.