A Hyde Park man was seriously injured Friday when his homemade experiment with black powder went horribly wrong, causing an explosion that tore off both his hands and heavily damaged his apartment, Boston police said.
The man was identified by officials as Steven Carley, a man in his 30s, whom law enforcement officials said posted an eight-second video to YouTube last week entitled “black powder deflagration demonstration.’’ The video shows a person lighting a match to a line of black powder, which is then consumed in a flash of sparks.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said that investigators do not believe there is a terrorism connection to Friday’s explosion, nor do they believe Carley was operating any type of drug lab.
Davis said Carley told investigators as he was being rushed to the hospital that he was experimenting. Davis said that Carley may have been trying to build fireworks, although he stressed the investigation into the explosion is ongoing.
Neighbors in Carley’s sprawling apartment complex off Neponset Valley Parkway reported hearing an explosion shortly after 9 a.m., followed by a plume of white smoke climbing the interior of the building at 19 Riley Road. Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said a small fire was ignited after the explosion, which was extinguished within a half-hour.
Evelyn Norman was in her third-floor apartment when she heard a boom, a noise that she first dismissed as the sound of a passing truck.
“Then the moaning got my attention,” she said, “the moaning and the yelling.”
Norman said she left her building and saw a mostly naked man lying on a patch of grass. At least one of his hands was a bloody, mangled stump. “It was pretty bad,” she said.
Norman said she saw a first responder trying to get information from the man, asking repeatedly what kind of chemicals he used. Norman said she did not hear the man answer and only heard him moan in pain.
Carley was taken to Brigham and Womens’s Hospital. Two officials briefed on the situation said his hands could not be reattached because they had been too heavily damaged by the force of the explosion.
A second man, also mostly naked, also emerged from the apartment. The man wore only a small patch of cloth draped around his waist and appeared to be disoriented, Norman said.
The second man was not bleeding, she said, and a neighbor provided a towel that Norman said she helped drape around him.
Another resident of the complex, Lindsey Bell, said she was in her apartment in an adjacent building when she heard the explosion. She said she heard the man in the towel tell authorities that a kitchen fire had caused the explosion. At about the same time, “there was a lot of white smoke coming out of the building,” she said.
The second man was identified by neighbors as Carley’s father, also named Steven. He was treated for respiratory issues, but was not injured in the explosion, officials said.
No charges were filed against either Carley by late Friday afternoon, but police said the investigation is continuing.
The police bomb squad spent several hours combing through the wreckage of the apartment. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobbacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI also responded and assisted in processing the scene and examining materials police found in Carley’s storage space at the complex, officials said.
Carley’s basement apartment and the apartment directly above were damaged by the explosion, but officials allowed all other residents to return home by late Friday afternoon.
Police asked anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-494-TIPS (8477) or to text the word TIP to CRIME (27463).