SAFETY HARBOR – A Clearwater man was treated for injuries after being struck by a falling bullet while watching fireworks July 4.
According to Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies, Richard John Smeraldo, 74, was watching a fireworks display along the waterfront near the Safety Harbor Spa and Marina when he was struck by a falling bullet about 9:45 p.m. Smeraldo was in an area about 60 feet north of the restrooms and about 125 feet west of the shoreline.
According to reports, Smeraldo, his wife and friends were watching the fireworks display near the Safety Harbor Spa and Marina when something struck him in the face. He told deputies that he first thought he had been struck by a rock. But one of his friends found a bullet on the blanket next to her – and then Smeraldo realized he had been struck by the bullet.
Smeraldo was transported by ambulance to Mease Countryside Hospital. There deputies learned that the bullet evidently went through the bill of Smeraldo’s cap, into the bridge of his nose – out his right nostril, through the upper portion of his bottom lip and exited though his lower chin.
The bullet then struck a metal medallion Smeraldo was wearing on a chain around his neck – then bounced off the back of his friend and onto the blanket.
Smeraldo’s injuries required stitches and he was released from the hospital after treatment.
Deputies launched a search and investigation in an area just south-southwest of the Safety Harbor Marina. No arrests have been made yet.