WICHITA FALLS - A teenager from Newcastle died Thursday morning in a fireworks- related accident, said Jay Hutchens, an investigator for the Young County Sheriff's Office.
Brandon Bailey, a 19-year-old Tarleton State University student who was born and raised in Young County, died from injuries suffered after he and friends improvised fireworks from five artillery shells and loaded them into a steel pipe, Hutchens said.
Artillery shells are designed to be launched out of a cardboard tube and detonate when they're in the sky.
"They were attempting to project one further out at a greater distance," Hutchens said. The shells exploded unexpectedly, shattering the bottom of the steel pipe, he said.
Shrapnel hit Bailey in the neck and chest, fatally injuring him. None of the other people with Bailey was injured by the blast.
"It was a freak accident," Hutchens said.
A Young County Sheriff's Office dispatcher received a call from one of Bailey's friends after the accident. Deputies from Young County, along with emergency personnel and police from Olney, left for the scene - which was in the remote countryside between Newcastle and Olney - at about 2:19 a.m.
Hutchens said Bailey was pronounced dead by a justice of the peace at approximately 3:30 a.m. Bailey's body has been sent to the Tarrant County Medical E xaminer'sO ffice for an autopsy, he said.
The Young County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident. Bailey graduated from Newcastle High School in 2011. He was the salutatorian of his graduating class. Bailey was a two-way starter for the Newcastle Bobcats his junior year - with 1,029 passing yards and 12 touchdowns as quarterback - before being sidelined his senior year by medical concerns. He also competed in basketball and track.