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'He Flew In The Air': Boy Loses Finger, Suffers 'Life-Altering' Injuries After Illegal Device Explodes In Hands

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Police say a 12-year-old boy lost at least one finger when an illegal device exploded in his hands Monday afternoon. Police say the incident happened shortly before 6 p.m at the Edward Houseman Recreation Center in the city's Summerdale section.

The bomb squad believes the illegal explosive device that injured this young boy is the equivalent to a quarter stick of dynamite. Police are describing his injuries as "life-altering."

"The boy, he flew in the air past this black gate -- higher in the air than this gate," eyewitness Jalia Bradley said.

Eyewitnesses described the moment an illegal explosive device exploded in a 12-year-old boy's hands just before 6 p.m. Monday in Northeast Philadelphia.

"Everybody was just in shock. Everybody just wanted to make sure that he was OK. All the older kids at the park ran him to his mother," Bradley said.

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The explosion happened in the field of Houseman Recreation Center. The child is now being treated at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

According to police, the boy lost at least one finger during the explosion and suffered serious injuries to his palm and knuckles.

"We're getting information that this 12-year-old lit the fuse. When the device did not explode, the 12-year-old boy then picked it back up and that's when it did explode," Philadelphia Chief Inspector Scott Small said.

"He was airborne, because he's small and petite and skinny so he flew," Bradley said.

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Just last week, a 9-year-old girl lost nearly all of her fingers when an improvised device exploded in her hands. Those in Northeast Philly are hoping tragedies like this can be prevented.

"We just really want to raise awareness and make sure everybody is keeping an eye out on their kids and making sure they don't get access to lighters," Bradley said.

The scene was very bloody but doctors believe the boy will survive. Police also believe someone is illegally manufacturing and selling these devices.

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