Chemistry class 'explosion' sends students and teacher to the hospital

Posted at 4:40 PM, Oct 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 18:13:36-04

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- An emergency incident inside a Dinwiddie High School chemistry class sent multiple students and a teacher to the hospital.

School officials indicated the incident, which some students described as an explosion and fire, occurred during a classroom demonstration.

"Three students were treated and transported to VCU Medical Center. One student was treated and released on the scene," a joint press release from Dinwiddie Schools, Sheriff, and Fire read. "One teacher was transported to a local hospital. The conditions of the remaining students and one teacher will not be released at this time."

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The investigation into just what went wrong in the classroom remained ongoing into Wednesday evening.

"I want to take this moment and thank everyone for their patience and support today as we work diligently to ensure the safety of all of our students and staff," Dinwiddie High School principal Robbie Garnes said when he addressed the media outside the school.

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Dinwiddie High School principal Robbie Garnes

He was unable to answer questions about the incident.

"Unfortunately, we are not able to disclose any additional information, per our sheriff's department," he said when asked about what happened.

Emergency crews were called to the school at about 9:23 a.m. The first units arrived in about five minutes, according to county officials.

"The fire alarm was pulled and all students were immediately evacuated out of the building to their designated safe areas," the statement continued.

'It was definitely utter chaos'

Dinwiddie student Alonna Perkins said she was in class on the second floor of the school building when she heard a loud bang that shook the walls of her classroom.

"It sounded like someone was going through the wall," Perkins said. "I was nervous, scared. I thought it was a fight though. And then I heard the fire alarm get pulled. At first, we thought it was a prank or something. It sounded like a fight, but it wasn't."

Sophomore Nicholas Peters said he was in a different part of the school when it happened.

"It was almost like a rumble, like an earthquake, then after that all we heard was screaming and then we realized something was wrong," Peters said. "It was definitely utter chaos. It was terrible."

Amanda Davis, a parent of a sophomore student at the high school, said she wanted more information about what happened in her child's school.

"I'm hoping we have some kind of answers as to why this occurred and making sure the children are okay," Davis said.

Juniors Emily and Kiley Dougherty said they knew some of the students in the classroom where the incident occurred and hoped they were OK.

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Dinwiddie High School students Emily and Kiley Dougherty

Emily said she could smell chemicals when she went back into the building to collect her belongings.

"It's scary," Emily Dougherty said. "I mean, depending on the burns, it's hard to fix people's skin."

School officials said there will be an asynchronous learning day for students on Thursday, October 13. Students will be able to return to school on Friday, October 14.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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