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Devon Staples attempted to launch a firework off of his head on Saturday in Maine and died instantly. Staples used to work at Disney World in Orlando and would dress up as Gaston and Goofy.
The 22-year-old lit up a reloadable fireworks mortar tube that was on his head while celebrating the Fourth of July with friends in Calais, Maine.
“Apparently, he thought that was a great idea,” said Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. “His friends said they thought they had dissuaded him from doing it, and the next thing they knew, he ignited the fireworks and he was killed instantly.”
The man’s brother, Cody, said the incident was a “freak accident” and he doesn’t think Devon intended to light the firework.
“Devon was not the kind of person who would do something stupid,” Cody told the New York Daily News. “He was the kind of person who would pretend to do something stupid to make people laugh.” Cody was at the event when Devon was killed.
“There was no rushing him to the hospital. There was no Devon left when I got there,” said Cody.
Cody revealed Devon recently worked at Disney and dressed up as various characters. “He loved it. He loved making people happy,” Cody Staples said. “Anyone who would want to give a tribute to Devon should go out and do something nice for someone. Show some love to someone you don’t know. That kid was all about showing people love.”
His mother Kathleen echoed Cody’s sentiments that the firework incident was an accident.
“That would’ve been suicide. I can’t see a happy boy wanting to destroy himself,” she told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 via CBS. “He believed it was a dud, he stuck it over his head and he was goofing off.”
She added, “I spent 22 years keeping that boy safe. Do not drink, you need to have a designated sober person that is making life and death decisions with these things.”
“The kid, out of hundreds of people, ended up working for Disney World as Gaston and Goofy. He was talented and bright,” she said.
Update July 6 10:35 AM PT Unilad, the outlet that previously identified Devon as the actor behind the Gaston whose push-up contest went viral on YouTube has since deleted this detail from its article.