New York Dad-to-Be Dies After Gender-Reveal Device Explodes

A father-to-be in New York state was killed this weekend while assembling an explosive device for his child's gender reveal party. Police say 28-year-old Christopher Pekny died on Sunday, according to a report by The New York Times. The New York State Police and bomb disposal unit are still investigating the incident.

Pekny passed away in the Catskills area of New York, where his family owns the Robin Hood Diner. His older brother Peter told the Times that he and their younger brother, Michael, were working on the device together when it went off unexpectedly. Michael was reportedly injured, but his condition is not clear. Peter said that Christopher was a talented mechanic, and he was surprised that his brothers could be injured so badly by a DIY project.

"The freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine," 34-year-old Peter said. He also said that his brothers were extremely close to each other — "If you could think of any two people who were the closest two people — amplify that tenfold."

As for Christopher, Peter said that he had learned that his girlfriend was pregnant with a baby boy just before Christmas. He said: "He was really looking forward to starting a family. He was really starting to settle down and grow up."

Christopher's family said that the Robin Hood Diner will be closed until further notice. In a public statement on Facebook on Monday, they wrote: "We are deeply saddened and must inform you all of the loss of our dear and beloved Christopher. We appreciate the overwhelming display of love and support that you all have shown. The Robin Hood will be closed for the immediate future. More details will be posted when we have them available. Thank you."

It is still not clear what kind of device Christopher was trying to build, nor how it malfunctioned. This is the latest in a string of viral stories about gender reveal stunts gone wrong, and it is not the first one to involve explosives. The theatrical gestures often expel either blue or pink smoke to indicate the baby's gender.

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Blogger Jenna Myers Karvunidis is often credited with popularizing these kinds of gender reveal stunts, but she recently made a post asking people to stop doing them. Aside from the physical dangers, Karvunidis said that she now understands how reductive such celebrations could be for transgender, non-gender-conforming and gender-non-binary individuals.

"Who cares what gender the baby is?" she wrote. "I did at the time because we didn't live in 2019 and didn't know what we know now — that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what's between their legs."