Evan Thomas Silva was fatally wounded in the blast outside a home in Gaines Township on Saturday night, Michigan State Police say. Silva was visiting the home for a baby shower when the homeowner rolled out a small cannon and tried to fire it in the backyard, where it exploded.
The device was a novelty “signal” cannon “designed to create a big flash, a loud noise and create smoke,” authorities say. It did not contain a cannon ball, but it was loaded with gunpowder which authorities say likely caused it to explode.
Silva was standing approximately 3 to 4.5 metres (10-15 feet) away from the cannon when it blew up, striking him with a hail of metal shrapnel. There were four others present, including the homeowner and the expecting couple, but none of them were injured. The shrapnel also struck the nearby garage and three parked cars, police say.
Silva was rushed to hospital where he later died.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blast, but they said it was not related to the often extravagant, sometimes dangerous and occasionally deadly trend of gender reveals.
Police say the homeowner bought the cannon at an auction and successfully fired it several times before Saturday’s disaster. It’s suspected that the device fractured and blew up in the fatal blast.
“The problem with things like this is when you use gunpowder and you’re using some sort of device without regular inspections on them, you may not see a hairline fracture in that device,” police spokesperson Lt. Liz Rich told the New York Times.
Rich added that the device “almost looked homemade.”
Michigan State Police, their bomb squad, the fire department and ambulance crews responded to the incident.
No charges were immediately filed, but the county prosecutor is expected to review the case once the investigation is complete.