UPDATE: Chemistry explosion injures Saint Martin’s University students

September 21, 2005
4:30 pm

Lacey, Wash. – An explosion during a chemistry demonstration in a Saint Martin’s University classroom today injured nine students. Four of the injured were transported by ambulance to Olympia’s Providence St. Peter Hospital and a fifth student traveled to Madigan Army Medical Center with her father for treatment. All suffered lacerations when a large glass bottle, approximately 18 inches by 24 inches, exploded. None of the injuries are life-threatening, according to Olympia Fire Dept. Captain Kate McDonald. One student remains in surgery; the others were treated and released. The remaining students were taken to the hospital by university staff members or friends for evaluation. Parents of all injured students have been notified.

The university has cancelled classes on its main campus in Lacey for the remainder of the day. They will resume tomorrow morning. Classes at the University’s Fort Lewis and McChord extension campuses will be held as scheduled tonight.

The accident, which occurred during an organic chemistry class on the Old Main building’s first floor, resulted when members of the university’s Chemistry Club were presenting a demonstration of a combustion reaction. The bottle, which contained a small amount of ethanol, exploded when lit, shattering the bottle and sending shards throughout the classroom.

Lacey Police Department and Lacey Fire Department 3, with Olympia Fire Department giving back-up, responded to the event. About 34 students were in the class, along with the professor and a laboratory assistant.

University counselors met with members of the class after the incident and will meet with them again tomorrow. Staff members and counselors also accompanied students to the hospital and will be at residence halls tonight. The university also will have a meeting for the university community tomorrow to answer questions.

Please see the university’s website, www.stmartin.edu, for updates. We will be adding more information as it is available. Families of Saint Martin’s students are asked to call (360) 438-4403.

Deanna Partlow
Media relations coordinator
360-438-4541; dpartlow@stmartin.edu