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FIREWORKS FIRM PAID SETTLEMENT – OKLA. DEATH PRECEDED ACCIDENT IN AURORA

FIREWORKS FIRM PAID SETTLEMENT – OKLA. DEATH PRECEDED ACCIDENT IN AURORA

Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Friday, July 9, 2004
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 6A
The same company involved in a fireworks malfunction in Aurora on Sunday was recently ordered to pay $1.1 million to the family of a woman who died after attending an indoor show in Tulsa, Okla.

Robbie Curry, 41, died Oct. 7, 2001, in Tulsa, after suffering an asthma attack after a pyrotechnics show at the Tulsa State Fair.

The display was put on by Enid, Okla.-based Western Enterprises Inc., which also was in charge of Sunday’s fireworks display at Bicentennial Park in Aurora where 12 people were injured.

An explosion in a launching tube knocked over another tube and sent a rocket shell into a crowd of people who had just finished watching the fireworks display.

Capt. Chris Henderson, a spokesman for the Aurora Fire Department, said that a preliminary investigation concluded the malfunction was an accident, but added that the incident remains under investigation.

Tulsa County jurors found Western Enterprises to be 65 percent negligent in Curry’s death on May 21. The company was ordered to pay $1,130,373 in damages to Curry’s husband, John.

Aurora awarded the contract for fireworks displays to Western Enterprises on Jan. 24, 2002. The city required Western Enterprises to submit information about previous lawsuits involving the company, but none was reported at that time.

The Curry lawsuit against the company was filed Nov. 25, 2002.

Henderson said representatives from Western Enterprises, including the company’s president, Jim Burnett, met with city officials Monday to discuss the investigation, but Henderson would not disclose what was said.

Henderson also said the city has had no trouble with the company since it began putting on displays in 2002.

Steve Frantz, vice president of Western Enterprises, said the company would have a written statement on Thursday, but it was not available at press time.

“It’s a shock to us,” Burnett told the Aurora Sentinel, regarding the accident. “When we get alerted to these kinds of things, we want to respond quickly.”

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