Michigan man killed after cannon explodes at baby shower

A Michigan man was killed when a cannon fired during a backyard baby shower exploded and struck him in the chest with metal shrapnel, police have said.

Evan Thomas Silva, 26, of Hartland, was killed Saturday night outside a home in Genesee County’s Gaines Township. He was taken in serious condition to Hurley Medical Center in Flint, where he later died.

Four or five people were in the backyard when the small cannon was fired, but Silva was standing about 10 to 15 feet away and was the only person struck by shrapnel, Michigan State Police said.    

The garden party had been to celebrate the pending arrival of the baby. Silva is said to have been a friend of the family and did not light the fuse.  

Michigan State Police Lt. Liz Rich said: ‘(It was) similar to a signal cannon. The cast material exploded and sent projectiles in all directions.

‘The homeowner reported it had been shot several times. If there aren’t regular inspections on a device like this, the cast material can wear away.’ 

Phil Sheridan, who is CEO of Sheridan Arms in Saginaw Township, told ABC12: ‘Simply loading the wrong type of gunpowder, loading too much gunpowder in there can take an open ended cannon and turn it into a bomb.’ 

Police confirmed a shard from the explosion was found 25 feet from the scene.  

Evan Thomas Silva, 26, was fatally injured after a cannon fired during a party malfunctioned

Evan Thomas Silva, 26, was fatally injured after a cannon fired during a party malfunctioned

Evan Thomas Silva, 26, was fatally injured after a cannon fired during a party malfunctioned

The device was similar to a Signal Cannon, more commonly used as a novelty item. Police said the homeowner had bought the cannon at an auction and had fired it several times before (stock image)

The garden party was attended by a small number of family members to celebrate the pending arrival of the baby

The garden party was attended by a small number of family members to celebrate the pending arrival of the baby

The garden party was attended by a small number of family members to celebrate the pending arrival of the baby

The Michigan State Police Bomb Squad, Gaines Township Fire Department, and Med Star Ambulance attended the scene. 

Three parked cars and the garage where the baby shower was being held were also struck by shrapnel. 

County prosecutors are now said to be reviewing the case. 

Police said the homeowner had bought the cannon at an auction and had fired it several times before. It’s suspected that the shrapnel came from the cannon breaking apart during the explosion, police said.

‘The cannon is designed to create a big flash, a loud noise and create smoke,’ 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.’ 

The 26-year-old was rushed in serious condition to Hurley Medical Center in Flint, where he later died

The 26-year-old was rushed in serious condition to Hurley Medical Center in Flint, where he later died

The 26-year-old was rushed in serious condition to Hurley Medical Center in Flint, where he later died

Police said in a statement: ‘The homeowner had purchased the cannon at an auction prior to the event and had fired the cannon several times prior.’ 

An investigation into the incident is ongoing. 

Silva’s brother, Phil Silva, posted a tribute to his sibling on Facebook, saying: ‘He has left behind a loving family, countless friends and memories in all of our hearts.’ 

A GoFundMe page to cover funeral costs was set up in the wake of Silva’s death. 

The page reads: ‘On 2/6/21 we lost Evan Silva to a sudden fatal accident.  

‘He left behind many family members and friends who greatly miss him and are grieving. 

‘We are asking for donations to help support Evans family with funeral arrangements. Thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated as well.’  

According to police, the victim was one of five people who were outside the residence when the cannon was fired. He was the only one to be hit by the shrapnel

According to police, the victim was one of five people who were outside the residence when the cannon was fired. He was the only one to be hit by the shrapnel

According to police, the victim was one of five people who were outside the residence when the cannon was fired. He was the only one to be hit by the shrapnel

Three parked cars and the garage where the gender reveal was being held were also struck by shrapnel

Three parked cars and the garage where the gender reveal was being held were also struck by shrapnel

Three parked cars and the garage where the gender reveal was being held were also struck by shrapnel

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. 

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.

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