WALTON COUNTY, GA. - A Georgia man trying to videotape shooting a lawn mower packed with explosives lost his leg.
"We get a lot of calls about Tannerite. It can be extremely dangerous if it is not used correctly," Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman told 11Alive's Duffie Dixon.
Tannerite is the brand name of a combination of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder. When mixed and shot with a high-velocity bullet, it creates a loud noise and explosion.
The manufacturer recommends using no more than half a pound at one time. But demonstrations using up to 100 pounds at one time have become popular internet videos.
The apparent attempt to make one of those internet videos cost one man his leg.
According to the March 19th incident report obtained by 11Alive, a sheriff's deputy responded to a call about an explosion. A 911 call reported 32-year-old David Pressley was shooting Tannerite in the woods and "had possibly blown his legs off from the explosion."
Two of Pressley's friends fashioned a tourniquet around his leg, helped him to the front seat of a vehicle, and drove him to a nearby road. That's where EMS met the group and started working on Pressley. "EMS advised David was missing his left leg below the knee," the report notes.
He was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. He is now recovering from the incident.
One of Pressley's friends told investigators they put three pounds of Tannerite into an old lawn mower "to blow it up". That friend also told the responding deputy the entire incident was captured on video. It became police evidence.
11Alive obtained that video. It shows Pressley dressed in what appears to be a tactical vest, sunglasses, and a ball cap. He shoots a semi-automatic rifle at the lawn mower for 30 seconds, getting off more than 20 shots. On the last shot, the lawnmower explodes in a cloud of water vapor. Shrapnel can be seen flying in all direction. The camera shot wavers.
"I blew my leg off! Oh, [expletive]!"
That's when what's happened hits the amateur cameraman: "Aw, [expletive]!"
"Call an ambulance! Call an ambulance!" a voice is heard yelling. The video ends.
Tannerite is legal (though not intended to be used in this way). No charges will be filed.
The Tannerite website spells out its intended use (as a shot indicator) and posts a warning:
Our patented and trademarked invention is designed for precision, long range target practice. Tannerite®, when used as prescribed, is safe/legal/fun for shooters from all walks of life. Please read all sections of this website so that you know you are in compliance with regulations.
The site also includes an FBI guide for sellers of Tannerite. It shows intended use (1 pound shot indicator) and misuse (50 pound exploding vehicle).
The company's site references recent injuries: Every time someone gets hurt with their own concoction or a fly-by-night patent thief's product, we get pointed at, and we are sick and tired of it.
In the Walton County case, friends, police, 911 dispatcher, and the Sheriff all refer to Tannerite by name.
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