CLEARWATER, FL -- A local man got a painful surprise as he watched a Fourth of July fireworks display Wednesday — a bullet through his face.
Richard John Smeraldo, 74, was struck and injured by a falling bullet while he watched the fireworks in Clearwater with his wife and friends around 9:45 p.m. near the Safety Harbor Spa and Marina, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
Smeraldo told deputies that he first thought he had been struck by a rock, until one of his friends found a bullet on the blanket next to her.
"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," a sheriff's office spokesperson said in a media release. "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 was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital, where he was treated and received stitches before being released, officials said.
Deputies launched a search and investigation in an area just south-southwest of the Safety Harbor Marina. No arrests have been made.
The investigation continues.