Mom: 4-year-old girl’s vision loss likely permanent following fireworks injury

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 6:02 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 7:36 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A four-year-old little girl is suffering from what her doctors are now calling permanent vision loss after she was hit in the eye with a firework on the 4th of July.

“Her damage is permanent. Nothing can fix it, unfortunately. Her doctor said it’s up to God to tell if her vision will return,” said her mother Abbie Harkins.

4-year-old Scarlett Harkins and the rest of her family were in a packed parking lot off of W Valley Ave in Homewood on the 4th of July, waiting to watch Thunder on the Mountain. But, mom says, before the big show, people began lighting their own fireworks. That’s when and her daughter, Scarlett, was hit in the face. The colorful flame from the firework hit their truck’s windshield and landed on Scarlett, who was sitting in the back with other small children.

“My twins are two, they were in the back with her. It could’ve been them too. We literally had a truck full of kids,” Harkins cried.

“It blasts off in my eye,” 4-year-old Scarlett explained in an interview. “Do you see that thing on my eye? See that thing.”

Scarlett tugged on her bloodied, bruised left eye.

“She can’t see out of her eye. She can’t see,” her mother said.

Scarlett’s parents took her to Children’s hospital where she had to be sedated due to the pain. She was diagnosed with retinal bleeding, severe bruising, cuts, and vision loss. Doctors said they would have to wait and see if Scarlett’s vision would fully return.

But according to her most recent prognosis, it won’t. Scarlett had surgery on Wednesday July 13. Doctors told mom there wasn’t anything else they could do.

“The damage is in the center of her retina, in the area that’s connected to her optic nerve. I’m heartbroken,” Abby Harkins said. “Her doctor said it’s up to God to tell if her vision will return.”

Her family took a picture of two people they believed to be involved in shooting the fireworks.

“The one that’s shorter, he had a blue thing in his hand. It was a torch. Just from looking at them, he was anywhere from 13 to 16,” she recalled.

Harkins said she filed a report with Homewood Police.

No criminal charges had been filed at the time.

“I want them to know what they did to my baby. I want them to know the pain that she is feeling,” Harkins said.

Harkins said she hoped people would be more careful when playing with fireworks after seeing what happened to her daughter.

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