A woman has died of injuries she sustained from an explosion at a gender-reveal party in Knoxville, Iowa, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
The 56-year-old woman was struck by a piece of flying debris and was pronounced dead at the scene on Saturday afternoon, authorities said in a news release provided to local station WTKR. Her identity has not been released. The incident happened at a rural home outside the city.
“A gender-reveal announcement resulted in the explosion,” police said.
The victim has been identified as Pamela Kreimeyer, 56. She was one of five family members who accompanied the expecting mother for the gender-reveal moment.
Authorities say the family was “experimenting with different types of explosive material” in order to create something that would capture attention on social media.
The family had built a homemade stand to launch a controlled explosion, but their fuse mechanism turned it into a “pipe bomb,” police said in a statement to local station KCCI.
“The stand exploded sending metal pieces flying,” police said.
Kreimeyer was standing approximately 45 feet away when she was struck in the head by a piece of metal.
“It’s believed that the projectile that struck the victim then continued another 144 yards through the air, coming to rest in a field,” police said.
The victim was a wife, mother and grandmother, Sheriff Jason Sandholdt told KCCI.
“This family got together for what they thought was going to be a happy event with no intent for anyone to get hurt,” Sandholdt said. “This is a reminder that anytime someone mixes these things, there is a high potential for serious injury or death.”
No charges have been announced at this point.
The results of the actual gender reveal have not been announced.
Gender-reveal parties started a decade ago as simple stunts involving coloured balloons or cakes. However, they have become increasingly elaborate — and occasionally dangerous — in recent years.
A gender-reveal stunt involving a coloured explosive package triggered a major wildfire in Arizona in 2017. That fire caused more than US$8 million in damage, and the father-to-be is currently on a payment plan to make up for it.
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A car was destroyed in Australia last year when the tires caught fire during a gender-reveal “burnout” that got out of hand. The father-to-be was spinning the car’s tires to give off coloured smoke when they erupted in flames.
Parenting blogger Jenna Karvunidis, who is credited with starting the gender-reveal trend, has said she regrets introducing the idea to the world.
“I’ve felt a lot of mixed feelings about my random contribution to the culture,” she wrote last summer. “Who cares what gender the baby is?”