What to Know
A homemade explosive was inside a plastic bag in Central Park when it went off July 4th weekend
The teen who stepped on a rock covering it, setting it off, had part of his leg amputated at Bellevue Hospital
Connor Golden's parents say he is resilient after the operations and won't let it define who he is
The college student whose foot was blown off by an abandoned homemade explosive inside Central Park over the July 4th weekend is recovering after three operations at Bellevue Hospital and is planning to return to school in the fall and resume an active lifestyle, his family told reporters in New York Monday.
Connor Golden's parents spoke from the hospital Monday, partly to thank the doctors, caregivers, friends and family for their support after the traumatic accident.
Father Kevin Golden said the family was driving up Interstate 95 from their home in Virginia when they learned their 19-year-old son was in the hospital.
"The first thing he said is he stepped on a bomb," Kevin said. "We had to pull off so as not to get into an accident."
"You raise your kids teaching them how to be safe. What does a parent do when something like this happens?" said Kevin.
When they learned he needed to amputate his foot and part of his left leg, "at that point, Connor said, 'That's OK,'" Kevin recounted, choking up. "He's happy his hands were intact. He's a musician."
Connor Golden has been released from intensive care after multiple operations and is healing well, doctors said Monday. He's getting stronger every day, and they're hopeful he can be released soon and return to northern Virginia with his family.
Doctors said advancements in prosthetics will allow Connor to have a normal active lifestyle, and a program will help him learn to walk again.
"He is a very strong and resilient young man," said Kevin. "He will not let this define who he is. He's been comforting himself playing music. One of the instrutments that was with him at the explosion, he's been playing for nurses."
Connor is planning to go back to school at the University of Miami in the fall, where he's studying music engineering. The university's Frost School of Music and Miller School of Medicine have jointly developed a software application and treatment that uses music to train amputees to walk with prosthetics -- and that application will be made available to Connor.
In the meantime, his family is "very anxious to identify who is responsible for this."
Investigators believe the person who left behind the homemade explosive inside a plastic bag was experimenting with chemical mixtures to make a small explosion, law enforcement officials have said. When the bag failed to detonate, the person left behind the volatile mixture of chemicals in the park. There was no sign of any triggering mechanism, and authorities don't believe the device was designed to intentionally hurt people.
Police said they believe it was created by "an explosive hobbyist or experimenter" who had some knowledge of chemistry. Connor's parents said they spoke to one of the good Samaritans who came to his aid right after the explosion to thank him. They said the good Samaritan, a former member of the U.S. military who's familiar with explosives, told them he too did not believe the explosive was a firework.
"In this world we live in, it's difficult to make sense of this type of incident," said Kevin Golden. "We would love to get some answers to make sense of this."
The NYPD is offering a $12,000 reward for information.