Local Man Dies After Mishap Before Fireworks Show

Willy Calabrese – Who Graduated From La Jolla High School – Severely Burned In Mishap In Riverside County

A local man died Sunday after he was burned over most of his body during a mishap before a fireworks show in Riverside County.

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Family members told 10News 20-year-old Willy Calabrese died from injuries he suffered in Lake Elsinore at the Diamond, the minor league baseball field for the Lake Elsinore Storm.

Fireworks crew members were getting ready for what is billed as a "Fireworks Friday" show at the Lake Elsinore Storm game. The Storm is a minor league affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

Something went wrong and the fireworks exploded before the show started.

10News learned Calabrese was significantly burned over most of his body while setting up for the show. He was taken by helicopter to a hospital in San Bernardino, where he died from his injuries Sunday morning.

Family members said Calabrese graduated from La Jolla High School two years ago. Calabrese went on to work for Fireworks America – which is based in Lakeside – while attending UC Santa Barbara.

The company's website shows a long list of high-profile clients. It also lists their experience, saying its average licensed pyrotechnician has 10 years of experience. It is unclear if Calabrese was accompanied by a pyrotechnician at the time of the explosion.

10News' phone calls to Fireworks America have not yet been returned.

Calabrese's father Ron told 10News, "He loved doing his work. It's hard to tell someone who loves their work, 'Hey, you can't do it.'"

His mother Janice told 10News that Calabrese was an extraordinary human being in many ways.

When asked about the more than 100 people who went to Pacific Beach Christian Church for a vigil on Sunday night, she spoke about her appreciation for the support.

"To come home to the pictures and the balloons and the outpouring of love and people bringing food and his friends here… he would be just so happy that this was happening for him," she said.

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