4 high school students hospitalized after chemistry experiment results in explosion

Four Indiana high school students were hospitalized Tuesday after a chemistry experiment gone wrong, officials said.

One of the victims, Ethan, had to be hospitalized after suffering injuries that required skin graft surgery and therapy, his father, David Hooper, told the Tribune-Star.

“Ethan received second and third degree burns to his left arm, primarily from the elbow to his fingertips and his face, his father said,” the outlet reported. “His son was the most severely injured in the accident, which occurred outside the school as part of an Advanced Placement chemistry course science experiment.”

Three other students were also hurt, but they only suffered minor injuries, said Nancy Liston, principal of North Central High School in Farmersburg.

The incident occurred when “something went wrong” as the students were conducting an experiment outside of the school, Liston said, according to The Associated Press.

“There was a flash fire and explosion,” Sullivan County Sheriff Clark Cottom added.

The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s office was investigating the incident, Indiana Department of Homeland Security Department of Public Affairs Director David Hosick said.

“We have been called in by local fire officials to assist with the investigation,” Hosick told the Tribune-Star.

Though exact details about the incident have yet to be determined, David Hooper posted on Facebook to clear a few things up.

“The chemicals used the day prior [Monday] was in fact used in an experiment done many times over the years. However, the next day, one of the chemicals was replaced by another for a first time experiment,” he wrote on the Tribune-Star’s Facebook page.

“My son just happened to be the one completing the experiment by lighting it.”

Hooper said the students were attempting to change a flame’s color, but didn’t change the mixing ratios even though they used a different chemical.

“It caused an extremely dangerous situation,” Hooper said.

However, Hooper said the family was “optimistic” despite Ethan’s injuries.

Northeast School Corp. superintendent Mark Baker expressed regret over the incident.

“The school corporation regrets the accident that occurred. We are cooperating fully with the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s office as they investigate the incident,” he told the Tribune-Star. “We wish the students involved a full and speedy recovery.”