An expectant father was killed in New York State on Sunday while tinkering with a gender-reveal explosive device in his garage, police say.
Christopher Pekny, 28, was “building a device to be used at a child gender-reveal party” when it exploded, killing him and injuring his younger brother Michael, New York State Police said in a statement.
Pekny was expecting his first child, and he was building the explosive to tell friends and family about the child’s gender.
The mother is expecting a boy, according to Peter Pekny Jr., the eldest brother who was not present when the explosion took place.
Michael Pekny, 27, was taken to hospital for his injuries after the blast.
The three Pekny brothers were very mechanically inclined, and Christopher had been trying to build a gender-reveal explosive on his own, Peter Pekny told the New York Times. He called the blast “the freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine.”
The police bomb squad is investigating the blast at Christopher Pekny’s home in Liberty, N.Y. It was not immediately clear what triggered the explosion, or what type of explosive material was involved.
Many paid tribute to Christopher Pekny at the family’s diner after his death.
Gender-reveal stunts have become an increasingly popular and dangerous trend over the last decade, particularly as some parents have embraced explosives as a way to tell the world about their child’s sex.
A grandmother was killed in a gender-reveal explosion gone awry in 2019, and a firefighter died in California while battling a blaze caused by a gender reveal in 2020.
Another gender-reveal explosive triggered a devastating wildfire in Arizona in 2017, causing more than US$8 million in damage. A court later ordered the father to pay back the full value of the damage over the course of his life.
An Australian man narrowly escaped a fiery end in 2018, after his car erupted in flames while burning out its tires in a smoke-related gender reveal.
Pekny is the second person to die in a baby-related explosion this month. A Michigan man died in early February after a novelty cannon exploded at a baby shower.
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 in 2019. “Who cares what gender the baby is?”