Michigan man, 26, killed after cannon used at baby shower explodes

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Gaines Township — A 26-year-old Hartland man died after being struck in an explosion during a baby shower, Michigan State Police said Sunday.

The incident occurred at 7:30 p.m. Saturday when a small cannon device was fired in the back yard of a home in Genesee County.

The family celebrating the baby's pending arrival with the homeowner firing the cannon, which blew up, causing shrapnel to strike the man, identified by police as Evan Thomas Silva, who was standing nearby, police said.

Silva was taken in serious condition to Hurley Medical Center in Flint, where he later died.

Four or five people were outside of the home when the cannon was fired but the victim was the only person struck at about 10-15 feet away, police said. Three cars in a garage, where the event took place, also were sprayed by shrapnel.

Evan Thomas Silva, 26, from Hartland was fatally injured after the cannon exploded.

Michigan State Police Flint officers and bomb squad, Gaines Township Fire Department and an ambulance responded to the scene.

The cannon the homeowner fired was similar to a Signal Cannon, more commonly used as a novelty item. Police said the homeowner bought the cannon at an auction prior to the event and had fired the cannon several times before.

"The cannon is designed to create a big flash, a loud noise and create smoke," Michigan State Police said in a news release. "The cannon did not contain any projectiles, but it is suspected that the gun powder loaded into the device caused the cannon to fracture, resulting in shrapnel being spread in the area."

State police said following an investigation, the case will be sent to the Genesee County prosecutor for review.

"Yesterday evening, Evan Silva was in a fatal accident," his brother Phil Silva posted in a tribute on Facebook. "He has left behind a loving family, countless friends and memories in all of our hearts. Further details are to come, your thoughts and prayers are appreciated."

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

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. The device was meant to spray powder but instead blew up like a pipe bomb.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_