An upstate New York father-to-be who died while assembling a gender reveal device for a celebration was known for being very mechanically inclined and "could fix anything."
Christopher Pekny, age 28, of the town of Liberty in Sullivan County on the edge of the border of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley, was killed around 11:55 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 21, at a residence on the Lt. JG Brender Highway, said Trooper Steve Nevel of the New York State Police.
An investigation revealed that Christopher Pekny was building a device to be used at a child gender reveal party when it exploded, killing him and injuring his brother, Michael Pekny, age 27, also of Liberty, Nevel said.
In an interview with the New York Times, Christopher's older brother, Peter, called the explosion a "freak accident."
"The freakiest of freak accidents that I could ever imagine," he added.
The 34-year-old brother said the two were very close and excited about the new baby.
He learned just before Christmas that his girlfriend was pregnant and that they were having a boy, the brother told the Times.
The dad-to-be, who worked at Liberty Concrete as a mason, was called Frankenstein because of his size of 6-feet-five inches tall and 250 pounds.
State Police said they are investigating what type of device they were attempting to put together and what might have gone wrong.
The family is well known in the area for owning the Robin Hood Diner, in Livingston Manor. They posted a statement to the restaurant's Facebook page on Monday saying they would be closed for a while following the tragedy.
Christopher, who would have turned 29 on Tuesday, Feb. 23, waited tables and tended bar at the restaurant on occasion.
His younger brother Michael is in stable condition at a hospital in Middletown where doctors were able to rebuild a damaged knee.
There have been a number of accidents linked to "gender reveal" parties recently, including one that sparked a deadly wildfire in California over the summer that killed 25 people.
The parties have become a fun way for couples to announce news about their pregnancies on social media.
- See related story: 28-Year-Old Killed, Brother Injured While Building Gender Reveal Explosive For Party In Area
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