Michigan Man Killed by Exploding Cannon at Baby Shower

A man has died after he was struck by shrapnel from an exploding novelty cannon used during a baby shower in Michigan, police have said.

Evan Thomas Silva, 26, was killed when a "small cannon-type device" was fired in the backyard of a Genesee County home around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

"The homeowner had purchased the cannon at an auction prior to the event and had fired the cannon several times prior," Michigan State Police said. "The cannon is designed to create a big flash, a loud noise and create smoke."

Silva was standing 10 to 15 feet away when he was struck, police said in a statement.

He was taken to Hurley Medical Center where he later died from his injuries.

Silva is believed to have been a guest at the party that took place at the home of a family friend of the couple expecting, police spokeswoman Lieutenant Liz Rich told The New York Times. Only four or five people were in the backyard when the cannon exploded.

The cannon stunt, intended to celebrate the baby's pending arrival, also caused damage to three parked vehicles and a garage at the property.

Police are continuing to investigate how the explosion occurred.

"The cannon did not contain any projectiles, but it is suspected that the gunpowder loaded into the device caused the cannon to fracture," police said.

"The problem with things like this is when you use gunpowder and you're using some sort of device without regular inspections on them, you may not see a hairline fracture in that device," Lieutenant Rich said.

"There may have been too much gunpowder in there — that's what our bomb squad suspects, that that's the reason the entire thing exploded."

Describing the device, she said "it almost looked homemade."

Silva's family have paid tribute to him on social media.

Yesterday evening my brother Evan Silva was in a fatal accident. He has left behind a loving family, countless friends and beautiful memories in all of our hearts. Further details are to come, your...

"Yesterday evening my brother Evan Silva was in a fatal accident," Carolyn Grace wrote over Facebook on Sunday. "He has left behind a loving family, countless friends and beautiful memories in all of our hearts."

Michigan State Police said a bomb squad and Gaines Township Fire Department responded to the scene. The case will be sent to the Genesee County Prosecutor for review. No charges had been filed at the time of publication.

Newsweek has contacted the Gaines Township Fire Department for comment.

Explosive devices have grown in popularity in recent years with couples seeking to announce their pregnancy news with a bang.

Sadly, this is not the first disastrous baby shower or gender reveal party that has reached national attention. Similar devices have been linked to at least two deaths since 2019 and a pair of major wildfires.

An Iowa woman was killed at a gender reveal party in October of 2019 when she was struck in the head by a piece of metal from the device created to reveal the baby's sex

Pamela Kreimeyer, 56, died instantly when a piece of metal hit her after relatives, trying to put a creative twist on a gender reveal, accidentally created a pipe bomb.

The grandmother had been standing approximately 45 feet away from the device with other relatives when she was killed by the shrapnel.

In April 2017, an Arizona couple's explosive baby announcement sparked a wildfire that destroyed more than 45,000 acres of land and took a week to extinguish.

Border patrol agent Dennis Dickey shot a makeshift target labelled "boy" and "girl" set up in a field near Tucson before the target exploded in a cascade of blue smoke. The explosion ignited the surrounding brush and required firefighters from 20 stations to battle the blaze, which raged for a week.

The fire burned 45,000 acres and caused more than $8 million in damage.

A baby shower cake in NYC
File photo: The refreshment table is seen during a baby shower in New York City on April 27, 2016. A man was killed in Michigan after shrapnel from an exploding cannon used at a baby shower struck him, police said. Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic/Getty