WARNING: Article contains graphic photos.
A woman in Kentucky was permanently disfigured after being hit by an out-of-control firework — which broke every bone in her face and caused her to lose an eye.
Kristie Young, 38, says she has a "completely different face" after the horrific 2015 accident at a friend's BBQ.
Speaking about her ordeal for the first time, the former factory supervisor said she was chatting with pals when the firework fired sideways instead of blasting into the sky. It rocketed into her head and exploded, shattering every bone in her face and leaving her fighting for her life in intensive care for 41 days.
Young lost her left eye in the July 2015 blast and went on to suffer a brain hemorrhage which rendered her paralyzed on her left side. She spent a further 273 days in rehab after being discharged but is currently unable to walk or stand unaided.
The aunt-of-five, who wears an eye patch, said her altered appearance has been extremely difficult to accept following horror accident.
Now Young, of Edmonton, Ky., is warning against unregulated fireworks displays, and said she will never go near fireworks again.
"I don’t remember anything about the night. The last thing I remember is swimming in the pool earlier that day," Young said. “But from what I’ve been told, no one really knows what went wrong. One of the fireworks must have been faulty, because instead of going into the air to explode, it went sideways."
“I was just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time," she added.
Young added that medical workers told her father that they didn't expect her to be alive by the time the transferred her to the University of Louisville Hospital.
“I had broken every bone in my face and I had to have surgery to remove the front part of my skull," she said.
“My face is totally different now. I hate saying this, but at the beginning, there were several times when I could not bear to look at myself in the mirror. I would ask my nurse to cover up the mirror so I wouldn’t have to look at my reflection."
Young said another difficult moment came when she renewed her license, as looking at her new photo was a "tough" moment.
“It’s hard because when you go anywhere, even Walmart, people stare. Kids ask you questions but adults don’t. It makes me very sad because my youngest great-nephew was born four days after my accident, so he has never seen me any other way. He doesn’t know what I look like.
"This has a traumatic effect on me. It rips my heart apart," she said.
Young suffered a devastating brain hemorrhage weeks after the accident and now cannot walk or stand unaided, which resulted in her losing her job.
As well as losing her left eye, Young’s right eye has been left with just 30 percent vision.
She said she has undergone more than 30 surgeries since the accident, which has changed her life in every way.
“It was so devastating when I lost my job. I cried for days. I really enjoyed it," she said. "It wasn't my dream job but I had so much pride in it. When I overheard my dad saying I had lost my job, it was a blow."
Young, who says she currently uses a walker to get around, is now attending physical and occupational therapy.
"Those people are so wonderful. They’ve helped me get back to a point where I can bathe myself and take care of myself and I’m so grateful.
Young hopes to undergo reconstructive surgery in the near future, which will help rebuild her eye socket to a point where she is eligible for a prosthetic eyeball.
"I hope I will be able to get a glass eye, but it will never blink because I don’t have an eyelid and the nerves have been damaged. I try not to think about it too much."
Although the aftermath of the accident has been difficult, Young has found happiness in a new relationship with girlfriend Megan Simpson, 31, who she met four months ago.
"It's exciting and it occupies a lot of my time," Young said.
According to the Insurance Journal, eight people lost their lives in firework accidents in the USA in 2017, which Young said is eight too many.
The Kentucky woman is now an advocate for firework safety.
"Those deaths are completely unnecessary and preventable," Young said. "I think we should just avoid fireworks or at least be especially careful with them. Go enjoy the fireworks at a public display rather than at home.
"I would never go near them again, that's for sure."