MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – A 28-year-old New York man anticipating the birth of his child died Sunday when a device for a gender-reveal party exploded, police said.
Christopher Pekny was working on the device at his home in Liberty, New York, with his 27-year-old brother, Michael Pekny, when the explosion occured, state police said. Michael was injured and transported to a nearby hospital.
State Police Trooper Steven Nevel said the device “was not being built or made for malicious purposes.”
Police responded to the residence just before noon Sunday to the report involving an unknown explosion.
Nevel said state police continue to investigate.
Peter Pekny, the two men’s oldest brother, told The New York Times that the explosion was “the freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine.” Pekny told the paper he did not know what caused the explosion.
The soon-to-be father was “incredibly close” with his brother who was injured in the explosion and ready to accept the new role of being a parent, Peter Pekny told The Washington Post.
“He was finally ready to settle down and he was so happy to be a dad,” Peter Pekny told The Post. “He was just this big kid, ready to be a man. And this shouldn’t have happened.”
The trend of gender-reveal parties and people’s impulse to go big for the events have led other injuries and deaths in recent years.
Earlier this month, shrapnel from a small party cannon fired during a baby shower struck and killed a 26-year-old man in Michigan. A smoke device used at a gender reveal in El Dorado Ranch Park in California in September started a wildfire that burned for 23 days across 22,000 acres and led to the death of a firefighter.
A gender reveal in Florida that used what media reports described as a weapon and the explosive Tannerite sparked a 10-acre brush fire that caused $8 million in damage in April.
Debris from a homemade explosive used for a gender reveal struck a woman in Iowa, killing her, in October 2019. A gender reveal party in Arizona in 2018 started the “Sawmill Fire,” which burned 45,000 acres.
Contributing: Heather Yakin, Times Herald-Record; Ryan Miller, USA TODAY
Follow reporter Ryan Santistevan on Twitter @NewsByRyan_.