A 26-year-old Michigan man was killed in an explosion over the weekend after the organizers of a baby shower deployed an artillery-like device to announce whether they are having a boy or girl.
Evan Thomas Silva was struck by a blast of shrapnel after a homeowner in Genesee County ignited a device similar to a cannon during the gender reveal celebration on Saturday night, according to Michigan State Police. Upon firing off the cannon, shrapnel was sent toward three parked vehicles and a garage where guests had gathered, killing Silva.
“(It was) Similar to a signal cannon,” MSP Lt. Liz Rich told WJRT. “The cast material exploded and sent projectiles in all directions.”
The device was similar to a signal cannon used for novelty purposes, and had been purchased in an auction, police said.
“The homeowner reported it had been shot several times,” Rich said. “If there aren’t regular inspections on a device like this, the cast material can wear away.”
The cannon was designed to simply set off a bright flash accompanied by a loud noise and smoke, rather than actually firing off projectiles.
However, investigators believe that “the gun powder loaded into the device caused the cannon to fracture, resulting in shrapnel being spread in the area.”
Silva had been standing 10 to 15 feet away from the cannon before he was blasted in the chest by the shrapnel. He was immediately rushed to Hurley Medical Center, where he died.
Some shards had even been hurled as far as 25 feet away from the cannon, while other pieces of the cannon pierced the garage where the mishap took place.
The incident was under investigation by Michigan State Police. The MSP Bomb Squad, Medstar Ambuance and Gaines Township Fire Department all responded to the scene.
In recent years, gender-reveal parties have grown increasingly elaborate as expecting parents have used devises that eject confetti, balloons, and other colored objects to announce the soon-to-be-child’s sex.
Since gender reveal parties have gained popularity, they have also taken a dangerous turn as event organizers have used pyrotechnics and, in this case, artillery to make their announcement, resulting in freak accidents.
In September, a California couple’s plans to reveal their baby’s gender with blue or pink smoke set off a major wildfire that scorched thousands of acres across San Bernardino County. The couple ignited the “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” amid dry conditions and critical fire weather during a severe heat wave, according to authorities.
In 2019, a homemade explosive was detonated in Knoxville, Iowa, to reveal a baby’s gender. While the device was meant to simply spray colored powder, it instead blew up like a pipe bomb, killing 56-year-old soon-to-be-grandmother Pamela Kreimeyer.
In 2019, a plane crashed after a pilot dumped hundreds of gallons of pink water.
In April 2017, another major fire was sparked during a botched gender reveal party in Arizona. The fire eventually consumed over 45,000 acres across the state and caused over $8 million in damage over the span of a week. In 2018, a U.S. Border Patrol agent admitted he was guilty of a misdemeanor violation of U.S. Forest Service regulations for igniting the fire.
“People are very creative in the gender reveals, but remember safety is always number one,” Rich said.
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