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Ben Bertini was injured in a fireworks accident at Dodge Road in Pelham on July 3. He is recovering from his injuries at Shriners Hospital in Boston. (Courtesy)

Pelham boy, 2, comes out of medical coma

PELHAM - A 2-year-old boy placed in a medically-induced coma after a fireworks explosion is awake and communicating, according to family members.

Ben Bertini's first word upon waking up in Shriners Hospital in Boston was 'mommy', according to his great-grandfather Edmund Gleason.

'He did talk to his mother which made her extremely happy,' Gleason said. 'He is on the road to recovery.'

The road will be a long one, Gleason said. Bertini is expected to be in the hospital for at least another month. His parents, Jessica and Rob, have been by Ben's side constantly, Gleason said, and the family is emotionally exhausted.

Ben's grandfather Chris Pappathan, 58, was also injured in the blast and is still in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Ben is Chris' first grandson, and the pair is extremely close, Gleason said.

Marci Foy, 31, also remains in Massachusetts General Hospital. Her 8-month-old daughter Olivia was treated for burns over 10 percent of her body and is recovering at home with her father Patrick, who was also injured in the incident.

Five children and eight adults were injured July 3 during an annual Independence Day celebration held by Chris and Jeannie Pappathan at their home at 40 Dodge Road.

After the incident, family attorney Mark Darling said that a stray firework accidently ignited unused fireworks at the home.

The state Fire Marshal's Office removed more than 90 boxes of unused fireworks from the house on July 4, and said all the items were readily available in stores. Authorities said will about two weeks before an inventory and cost estimate is available.

The items collected as evidence will be held until the investigation is closed, said County Attorney Dennis Hogan.

Guests and witnesses are being interviewed as police investigate the incident with assistance from the Pelham Fire Department, the state police, the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal's Office and the Hillsborough County Attorney's Office.

The Pappathans own an insurance agency in Pelham and Jeannie Pappathan is a hairdresser who works out of her home. The community has rallied behind the families and established funds to assist with medical costs. Jessica Bertini is discouraging private fundraisers, Gleason said. Any residual funds left in the coffers will be donated to Shriner's Hospital in Boston.

Donations are being accepted at Friends of Ben Fund, Enterprise Bank, P.O. Box 1038, 139 Bridge St., Pelham, N.H. 03076. Donations for the Foy Family can be made to Enterprise Bank, c/o Foy Family.

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Julie Hanson may be reached at Jhanson@newstote.com...