Father-to-be dies after elaborate gender-reveal plan goes wrong

Brianne Tolj
·3-min read

A dad eagerly anticipating the birth of his first child was killed on Sunday (local time) when a gender-reveal party device exploded in a garage.

Christopher Pekny, 28, was building the device at a home in Liberty, New York, when it killed him and injured his brother, Michael Pekny, 27, at about 11.55am, according to police.

Christopher was expecting a son with his girlfriend.

Trooper Steven Nevel told The New York Times the device was some kind of pipe but the explosive material and what caused it to kill the dad-to-be is under investigation.

Christopher Pekny, 28, who was killed by a gender-reveal device.
Christopher Pekny, 28, was building a gender-reveal device at a home in Liberty, New York, when it killed him and injured his brother. Source: Facebook

During an interview on Monday (local time), the older brother of the men, Peter Pekny, 34, called the incident “the freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine”.

Michael is now in stable condition and doctors have rebuilt his injured knee.

Peter said Christopher was a talented mechanic and the younger brothers had been working on fixing up a rental home.

The 28-year-old was expecting a son with his girlfriend.

“He was really looking forward to starting a family. He was really starting to settle down and grow up," Peter said.

The Pekny family released a statement on their family-owned restaurant's Facebook page.

Candles lit on a doorstep in memory of Chris Pekny. Source: Facebook
A friend of Chris Pekny's posted footage of candles lit on a doorstep in his memory. Source: Facebook

"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."

In recent years, some gender-reveal events — where devices eject confetti, balloons or other coloured objects to announce a soon-to-be-born child’s sex — have taken a dangerous turn.

Earlier this month, a 26-year-old man was killed by a gender-reveal device during a baby shower in Michigan.

A small cannon device that was fired in the backyard of a home blew up, spraying metal shrapnel that struck Evan Silva who was standing nearby.

A baby shower sign at the home where the Michigan party was held.
Earlier this month, a 26-year-old man was killed by a gender-reveal device during a baby shower in Michigan. Source: ABC7Chicago

In September, a couple’s plan to reveal their baby’s gender with blue or pink smoke sparked a wildfire that burned thousands of acres in Southern California.

And in 2019, a homemade explosive used to reveal a baby’s gender killed 56-year-old Pamela Kreimeyer in Knoxville, Iowa.

Woman who invented gender-reveals says she regrets it

Jenna Karvunidis held an elaborate party for her first child in 2008 after struggling to conceive for years and used a cake with pink icing to reveal their baby’s gender.

The mum wrote about the party on her blog and a parenting forum and an article was soon written and shared.

However, Jenna recently told Today Parents that the events are "cancelled" and now make her "cringe".

In a recent blog post on Facebook, she said she has since had “a lot of mixed feelings about [her] random contribution to the culture”.

“It just exploded into crazy after that. Literally – guns firing, forest fires, more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby,” she said.

“Who cares what gender the baby is? 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.”

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