Falling bullet hits Pinellas man in face while watching fireworks

July 5, 2012 

SAFETY HARBOR -- A man was taken to the hospital after he was hit by a falling bullet while he watched fireworks in Safety Harbor Wednesday night.

Richard J. Smeraldo, 74, was watching the fireworks display with his wife and friends near the Safety Harbor Spa and Marina at around 9:45 p.m. when he felt something hit him in the face.

Deputies said Smeraldo first thought he had been hit by a rock, but one of his friends found a bullet on the blanket next to her. That was when Smeraldo realized he had been hit by the bullet.

Smeraldo was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital by ambulance. Investigators said they determined the bullet went through the bill of Smeraldo's cap and into the bridge of his nose, then out his right nostril and through part of his bottom lip and his lower chin.

The bullet then hit a metal medallion Smeraldo was wearing on a chain around his neck, then bounced off his friend's back and landed on the blanket.

Smeraldo received stitches, then was released from the hospital.

Deputies searched the area just south of the Safety Harbor Marina. No arrests have been made.

The investigation continues.

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