PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A 38-year-old man has died after he and several others fired a small cannon that exploded in the yard of a coastal home, the Lincoln County sheriff's office said.
Deputy Eric Gulbranson said Eric J. Rose, 38, of Keizer, and four other men were loading the black powder cannon when the explosion sent shrapnel through the air. A slice of metal knocked Rose unconscious, and he died late Saturday.
Three of the men suffered injuries in the blast. One was hospitalized with a leg laceration.
The sheriff's office said the cannon belonged to Christoper Dehnert, who owns the home in the community of Seal Rock. Dehnert, whose phone was busy Monday afternoon, reportedly told deputies the cannon had been used many times before at the rural property.
Sheriff's Lt. Dave Carey said the men fired the cannon for the sound, and it contained no projectile.
A photograph e-mailed by the sheriff's office showed little that remained of the cannon: wheels 6 to 8 inches in diameter and a metal handle used to push the device. The barrel itself, estimated to be about two inches in diameter and a couple feet long, was scattered across the property.
"When we say cannon, I think we all envision the Civil War and big, giant cannons," Carey said. "That's not the case here. This is fairly small."
No criminal charges have been filed. It is legal to fire a cannon, but criminal charges are possible once investigators determine what caused the mishap.
Deputies have contacted the district attorney's office, and a medical examiner plans to perform an autopsy.
"Until we can find out a little better about what happened, it's kind of hard to say whether anything's criminal or not," Carey said.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.