Young man severely injured in Central Park explosion in NYC
Police say there is no evidence suggesting the explosion was terror-related and have cleared the victim and his two friends of any wrongdoing.
Emergency services were filmed at the scene along with a reported bomb squad and the NYPD counter-terrorism unit.
The young man, identified by police as Connor Golden from Fairfax, Virginia, was climbing down from a rock structure when he stepped onto an explosive, severely injuring his left foot.
"He stepped on a rock or some object and there was an explosion that followed," a NYPD spokesman told Reuters.
Officials said that the explosive was likely “an experiment with fireworks or explosives,” but added that it didn’t look like it was meant to deliberately hurt anyone.
Investigators believe the explosive device was made by a “hobbyist” amateur or someone who is familiar with chemistry, said Mark Torre, commanding officer of the NYPD bomb squad.
Police described the incident as an “explosive experiment” that was meant to “make a large noise, maybe make a flash," Torre added.
“We've seen a lot of experimentation with homemade fireworks,” he said, adding that the device was likely programmed to go off earlier, but failed to do so.
The victim's two friends said they didn't have any fireworks at the time of the accident, according to an eyewitness as quoted by The Daily News.
"I saw his friends standing there panicking. I saw the young man laying on the grass. His foot is all but gone," said the eyewitness, adding he asked them if they had been using fireworks.
"They said, 'We didn't have anything. He stepped on something!'"
A call reporting a possible explosion came in at 10:53 am local time, according to FDNY, and the victim was found with a “partial amputation,” according to PIX11 News.
Golden was reportedly taken to Bellevue hospital where he is said to be in a critical but stable condition.
Police said the device could not have been in Central Park for more than one day and are investigating the incident in an effort to determine who the device belonged to.
Journalist Sarah Maslin Nir first reported running to the scene after hearing a “huge” explosion to find “a young man with his left leg blown off.”
Outside Eli Wiesel's funeral I heard a huge explosion just now. Running into Central Park and found a young man with his left leg blown off— Sarah Maslin Nir (@SarahMaslinNir) July 3, 2016
The explosion coincidentally happened near the funeral for Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor.