A woman has been left permanently disfigured after she was hit by an out-of-control firework that broke every bone in her face and caused her to lose an eye.
Kristie Young, 38, of Edmonton, Kentucky, was chatting with friends at a BBQ in July 2015 when a firework accidentally got fired into her face.
After spending 41 days in intensive care fighting for her life, the former factory supervisor then spent a further 273 days in rehabilitation before finally being allowed to go home.
But Ms Young still cannot stand or walk after the horrific accident caused her to suffer a brain haemorrhage that has left her paralysed on the left side of her body.
The firework-safety advocate has endured 30 operations since the ordeal and hopes to have reconstructive surgery to rebuild her eye socket so she can be fitted with a prosthetic eyeball.
Kristie Young has been left permanently disfigured after she was hit by an out-of-control firework that broke every bone in her face and caused her to lose an eye. Pictured since the ordeal, Ms Young has endured 30 surgeries and has struggled to accept her apperance
Pictured before the accident, which took place at a friend’s BBQ in July 2015, Ms Young remembers nothing of the incident apart from swimming in the pool earlier in the day
After being unable to bear her appearance, Ms Young now wears an eye patch when out
Speaking of the accident, Ms Young said: ‘I don’t remember anything about the night. The last thing I remember is swimming in the pool earlier that day.
‘But from what I’ve been told, no one really knows what went wrong.
‘One of the fireworks must have been faulty, because instead of going into the air to explode it went sideways. I was just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.’
After being rushed to hospital, Ms Young’s father was told to prepare for the worst. Although she pulled through, Ms Young has been left with a ‘totally different’ face.
‘I had broken every bone in my face and I had to have surgery to remove the front part of my skull,’ she said. ‘My face is totally different now.
‘I hate saying this but at the beginning there were several times when I could not bear to look at myself in the mirror. I would ask my nurse to cover up the mirror so I wouldn’t have to look at my reflection.
‘One thing that was very difficult for me was when I renewed my license. Looking at my new picture was a tough moment.’
Ms Young spent 41 days in intensive care fighting for her life, and then a further 273 days in rehab, before finally being allowed to go home. Pictured in the months after the accident, Ms Young would ask her nurse to cover up the mirrors in her hospital room to hide her reflection
Ms Young says her face is ‘totally different’, which has had a ‘traumatic effect’ on her. Keen to move on with her life, Ms Young is pictured right out and about wearing an eye patch
Ms Young, who has no children but is an aunt-of-five, struggles to accept the cruel stares of strangers.
‘It’s hard because when you go anywhere, even Walmart, people stare,’ she said. ‘Kids ask you questions but adults don’t.
‘It makes me very sad because my youngest great nephew was born four days after my accident, so he has never seen me any other way. He doesn’t know what I look like.
‘This has a traumatic effect on me. It rips my heart apart.’
Being unable to walk or stand, as a result of her brain haemorrhage, led to Ms Young losing her job.
‘It was so devastating when I lost my job,’ she said. ‘I cried for days. I really enjoyed it.
‘It wasn’t my dream job but I had so much pride in it. When I overheard my dad saying I had lost my job, it was a blow.’
Ms Young relies on a walker to get around and can only stand if she leans on something for support.
Pictured in the months after the accident, Ms Young hopes to one day have reconstructive surgery to rebuild her eye socket, which will make her eligible for a prosthetic eyeball. But she will still be unable to blink due to her having no eyelid and her nerves being too damaged
Although her mobility is severely limited, regularly attending physical and occupational therapy has enabled Ms Young to reach the point where she can shower independently and take care of herself.
Looking to the future, Ms Young hopes to one day have surgery so she can have a prosthetic eyeball fitted.
Ms Young, who has just 30 per cent vision in her remaining eye, said: ‘I hope I will be able to get a glass eye.
‘But it will never blink because I don’t have an eyelid and the nerves have been damaged. I try not to think about it too much.’
Although the aftermath of the accident has been difficult, Ms Young has found happiness in a new relationship with her girlfriend Megan Simpson, 31, who she met four months ago. ‘It’s exciting and it occupies a lot of my time,’ she said.
According to the Insurance Journal, eight people lost their lives in firework accidents in the US in 2017, which Ms Young believes is eight too many.
‘Those deaths are completely unnecessary and preventable,’ she said. ‘I think we should just avoid fireworks or at least be especially careful with them. Go enjoy the fireworks at a public display rather than at home.
‘I would never go near them again that’s for sure.’