LEECHBURG (KDKA) – Chief Michael Diebold lost part of his arm when a firework went off in his hand during a festival last week.

He’s still in the hospital, recovering from his injuries.

“I remember seeing a flash and getting blasted,” Diebold said. “Then I was on the ground. That’s when I reached over and realized my arm was gone.”

It was June 24. Diebold, who is the police chief, is also licensed to handle fireworks. He did it as a favor to the community. That night, one of the fireworks blew up in his face. He lost his hand and arm.

“You can be as safe as you want with fireworks, but there still can be that one in a million shot that something goes wrong,” Diebold said. “You have a bad product, and that’s what happened here.”

That night, part of his arm was blown off. Believing he was bleeding to death, Diebold whispered what he now describes as his last words to his friend, the Leechburg mayor.

“The mayor of Leechburg, who’s also a friend, was helping to load me [into an ambulance],” Diebold said. “I was losing it. I felt like I was gonna be gone. I remember asking him to take care of my son. I didn’t think I was gonna make it. I thought those were my last moments.”

Diebold says his 11-week-old son, Kyle, kept him alive, and he says Kyle will bring him all the way back to an active duty police chief.

“That’s my reason to live, that baby,” Diebold said. “I don’t want my son to think of me as a dad sitting at home collecting disability. I wanna get out there and do my job. I wanna get back to the people of Leechburg.”

Diebold is 39 years old and has been a Leechburg cop since he was 19.

A GoFundMe is set up to help Diebold with medical expenses: GoFundMe.com/michael-diebolds-medical-needs

A custom printing company in Leechburg, Little Devils Imprints, is selling T-shirts to benefit Chief Diebold and his family.

Diebold’s high school sweetheart and Kyle’s mother says before the accident, she and Diebold had been planning to surprise everyone and get married on the Fourth of July because they love fireworks.

The wedding has been postponed.

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