Virginia teen who lost foot in Central Park blast returns to NYC
The Virginia college student who lost part of his left leg in a mysterious blast in Central Park in 2016 made a return trip to the Big Apple in December — and made peace with the city where he was so badly maimed.
Connor Golden, now 22 and a software developer in North Carolina, “visited friends in Brooklyn and had a great experience,” said his mom, Carol, who also came back but in a separate trip in February.
“We each avoided going to Central Park,” she said of herself and her son. “I think it was very healing and powerful for each of us to return and have positive experiences.”
Golden was just 18 when he and two pals were exploring the park on July 3, 2016, and he stepped on what investigators believed to be a homemade firework.
The explosion tore off the teen’s foot, forcing doctors to later amputate his leg below the knee.
His return to New York seven months ago was his first time back since the explosion, said his mom — as was her visit in February. The trips helped the two wipe away the horror of what happened four years ago, Carol said.
“I had a wonderful time this time around and was so glad to replace the awful memories of New York City from the last time I was there with new, good memories,” she said.
Connor’s father Kevin called the four-year anniversary of the blast on Friday “a day of sadness about the senseless violence that crippled our son.”
“At the same time, it is a day when we are especially sensitive to how fragile life is, and so we’re especially thankful for having Connor still alive,” he said.
The three have made it a tradition to spend July 3 together but couldn’t do so this year because of the pandemic, instead gathering “virtually through the help of Zoom,” Kevin Golden said.
The family holds out hope that the crime can be solved, he said.
Though the story generated national headlines, “the trail has gone cold for the police, and so our best hope of finding justice for Connor rests on tips or other evidence provided by New Yorkers,” Kevin Golden said.
“During this period of high unemployment, the $40,000 reward offered by law enforcement for information on this case is a potent incentive for coming forward with leads.”
They started a Facebook page, “NYC Central Park Bombing Cold Case,” in December, even paying Facebook to promote it.
To go so long without an arrest has left Kevin “disappointed and frustrated,” he said.
“It’s very hard to accept that the police are unable to identify those responsible for a crime that occurred in one of the most high-profile places in the country,” he said.
“When the Boston bombing occurred, it felt like we were seeing footage of the explosion on cable news fairly soon after the incident.”
He added: “The NYPD keeps the details of its investigations fairly opaque, making it difficult to assess whether they are in fact ‘leaving no stone unturned,’ as one of the lead investigators had promised us four years ago.”
“All we can do is continue applying pressure on the NYPD and remind them that we expect justice for Connor,” he said.
The NYPD on Saturday said there are no arrests and the investigation is “active and ongoing.” They “are still seeking any information related to the incident.”
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