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Exploding paperweight severs teacher's hand

40 mm round of ammunition goes off when instructor strikes it in class

VENTURA, Calif. - Part of a teacher's hand was blown off when a 40 mm round of ammunition the instructor used as a paperweight on his desk exploded in his classroom.

Robert Colla struck the round with an object Monday afternoon while teaching 20 to 25 students at the Ventura Adult Education Center.

Part of Colla's right hand was severed and he suffered severe burns and minor shrapnel wounds to his forearms and torso, fire Capt. Tom Weinell said. No one else was injured.

Colla was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition.

"It was just a horrible accident," said Dennis Huston, who teaches computer design alongside Colla. Huston said he had his back turned to Colla and was only about three feet away when he heard a loud bang.

Colla found the 40 mm round while hunting years ago, Huston said. He used it as a paperweight and "obviously he didn't think the round was live," Huston said.
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