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An expectant father in upstate New York was killed on Sunday when a device he was constructing for a gender reveal party exploded, according to state police.
Christopher Pekny, 28, was building the device to reveal his child’s gender in the Catskills town of Liberty when it blew up. The blast killed Pekny and injured his brother, Michael, 27, who was treated for his injuries at the Garnet Medical Center in Middletown, according to USA Today.
“The Robin Hood diner in Livingston Manor, which has been owned and operated by the Pekny family since the 1980s, mourned the loss of Christopher in a statement,” the paper said. “‘We are deeply saddened and must inform you all of the loss of our dear and beloved Christopher,” the family wrote on Facebook. “We appreciate the overwhelming display of love and support that you all have shown.”
Peter Pekny, the two men’s oldest brother, told The New York Times that the blast was “the freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine.” He also said he didn’t know what caused the explosion, and police released no other details, although similar devices shoot out a pink-or-blue burst to reveal the sex of the baby.
The soon-to-be father was “incredibly close” with his brother Michael and excited to soon be a father, 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 paper. “He was just this big kid, ready to be a man. And this shouldn’t have happened.”
Christopher would have turned 29 on Tuesday.
“It has been two nights in a row of not being able to sleep, waiting, hoping to hear that this is all some crazy misunderstanding,” Pekny told the Post. “But we all know that’s not the reality here.”
Peter Pekny told the Post that his younger brother Michael had his knee reconstructed and doctors said he would one day regain mobility in both of his legs. But he said the loss of Christopher will never heal. “With all the wonders of modern medicine, they can piece his legs back together, but they still don’t have anything to piece back together a broken heart,” he said.
It’s not the first time a gender reveal has ended in tragedy. Earlier this month, a 26-year-old Michigan man died after he was struck by shrapnel from a cannon being used at a baby shower.
And in September 2020, a gender reveal pyrotechnic device ignited a massive wildfire in southern California. A smoke device deployed at the El Dorado Ranch Park in California started a wildfire that burned for 23 days across 22,000 acres and led to the death of a firefighter.
In another accident, debris from a homemade explosive used for a gender reveal struck a woman in Iowa and killed her in October 2019.