Having a baby is a big deal, and the way in which a parent-to-be reveals it is part of the fun of bringing a new life into the world. I remember how my wife told her family about the arrival of our third child.
She baked cupcakes from scratch and topped them with dollops of buttercream frosting — very generous dollops. As they slurped up the sugary stuff, her family members discovered little plastic babies secreted inside.
I thought it was a winning way of making the announcement. But one man from Arizona thought that his baby’s gender-reveal surprise should be a little more… explosive.
According to Inside Edition, Dennis Dickey decided to reveal the sex of his unborn child using a substance called Tannerite. On paper, the stuff sounds truly awesome.
It’s an explosive designed to detonate when shot by a rifle. Tannerite also comes in a special package designed to announce the gender of a baby.
Shoot one type, and you get a rising plume of blue. Blast another, and a fountain of pink erupts.
So Dickey, who is a border patrol agent, decided a Tannerite-fueled explosion would be just the thing to celebrate. But when he gathered family and friend in the wilderness for his high-powered demonstration, he forgot two things.
The first was that explosions can cause fires. The second was that Arizona is very, very dry in the summer.
As soon as Dickey shot the Tannerite, it erupted into flame and started an out-of-control wildfire. That fire would become known as the Sawmill Fire.
Dickey quickly reported the blaze to authorities, but it was too late. NPR reported that the Sawmill Fire ravaged some 45,000 acres of land.
The damage it caused rang in at $8.2 million. “It was a complete accident,” Dickey said during a court appearance.
“I feel absolutely horrible about it. It was probably one of the worst days of my life.”
He’s going to be feeling bad about it for a long time. Though not charged with arson, he will remain on probation for five years.
Dickey also has to pay for the damage he’s caused. According to Green Valley News, the Arizona District Attorney’s office says he’ll need to pay $8,188,069 in restitution, starting with an initial payment of $100,000 from his retirement fund and then $500 monthly payments for the next 20 years, totaling $220,000. The case will return to a judge after 20 years to decide future restitution.
However, there is some good news.
Dickey hasn’t lost his job as a border patrol agent. Oh, and he still has that baby on the way!
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