Over the holiday weekend, a college student was visiting NYC for the July 4th festivities when his foot was blown off in an apparent firework-related incident in Central Park. Victim Connor Golden, 18, was climbing on rocks in the park near E. 60th Street and Fifth Avenue around 11 a.m. Sunday when he stepped on what police believe was a homemade firecracker. His grandmother told NBC that his left leg has now been amputated below the knee.
"I would guess that he would love to continue at the University of Miami and sports,” Golden’s grandma Roberta told them, noting that he is an Eagle Scout, musician and honor student at University of Miami. "I have no idea how he would go about it, and, ironically, his birthday is next Sunday...And he wanted a long skateboard. Everybody in Miami has them."
Golden was visiting the city from Virginia with two high school friends, Thomas Hinds and Matthew Stabile. They were planning on slacklining between some trees in the park Sunday when Golden stepped on the device and the explosion happened.
“His foot was mutilated,” Hinds told the NY Post. "I was walking in front of him and suddenly heard this extremely loud explosion directly behind me. When I turned around, I saw Connor lying there, his foot completely gone. It was insane. He was moaning and saying, 'Get help.'"
Cops initially believed the trio might have been trying to set off fireworks themselves when the incident occurred, but they ruled them out as suspects after a long interrogation. The NYPD’s Bomb Squad (plus bomb-sniffing dogs) investigated the park, ruling out any terrorism connections. They concluded that the device was a "shock-sensitive" explosive inside of a black plastic bag. A wet matchbook was also found nearby the scene, leading them to believe that someone tried to set it off sometime this weekend, leaving it behind when it didn’t work.
Lt. Mark Torre, head of the NYPD Bomb Squad, told reporters he believes a hobbyist "made this material and then he wanted to test it...but in order to test a larger amount, you have to go somewhere. Somewhere might be your back yard. If someone lives in that vicinity, their back yard is Central Park."
Investigators are conducting a forensic examination to identify the explosive compound that blew up, but stress they don't believe the device was designed to intentionally hurt people.
Homemade fireworks similar to what may have been used in Central Park are extremely dangerous. Leave it to the pros pic.twitter.com/5sd8ufbikX
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) July 4, 2016