Two injured after fireworks explode in car on Topeka street

The Star's wire services

TOPEKA – Authorities are investigating after a car explosion in in Topeka peeled back the roof of a car and sent two people to the hospital.

State Fire Marshal’s Office investigations chief Rose Rozmiarek says emergency crews and law enforcement responded Sunday morning to an explosion inside a vehicle in the Oakland Expressway bridge. Authorities said a car driven by Jacob Schell was traveling southbound when it exploded, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

A driver who was following the car described the vehicle as being launched forward by the force of the blast.

The explosion happened about 10:15 a.m. on the Oakland Expressway bridge.

Jacob Schell’s vision and hearing have been affected, his brother, Alex Schell said. Besides shrapnel throughout his body, Jacob also suffered burns to the right side of his body.

Schell and his son, Roman, 4, were life-flighted to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., the Kansas Fire Marshal’s office said.

Roman, who suffered burns on 40 percent of his body, will undergo surgery to see if doctors can save his leg, Alex Schell said.

Kristie Schimmel was the third car behind the Schell vehicle when she saw it explode.

Schimmel said she saw a black ball "of smoke, then all these things flying out. I saw the glass, paper, and there was even a rubber bat. I didn't know what was going on."

Schimmel didn't see any flames during the explosion.

"It launched," Schimmel said, describing how the car suddenly was pushed forward due to the force of the explosion. "All of a sudden it launched." The car, with the roof peeled forward from the back to the front, came to a halt against a guardrail.

Alex Schell said he provided the fireworks for the family’s celebration, so Jacob didn’t use any of his. That mean numerous fireworks were in Jacob Schell’s vehicle at the time of the explosion.

Alex Schell said the fireworks caused the explosion, but he didn’t know how.

Jacob told his brother that he remembers the explosion and pulling his car over to the side of the road.