One teen dead, one injured in model rocket explosion at elementary school

An 18-year old is dead and his 17-year old friend hospitalized when their propane-propelled model rocket exploded at an elementary school Monday evening.

The two high school students from Thousand Oaks were working to test launch the model rocket as a school project Monday evening on the handball courts of Madrona Elementary School when it exploded.

Witnesses nearby heard the explosion and were quoted saying that it sounded like a sonic boom.

The 18-year old student whose name is withheld was pronounced dead of his injuries at a local hospital. His younger friend sustained minor injuries and is expected to survive, officials said.

Capt. Mike Lindbery of the Ventura County Fire Department reported that the two victims were “making rockets out of propane.”

“From all accounts, they didn’t try to launch their rocket. Something went terribly wrong and the one boy was holding it, and it exploded,” a nearby witness, Tammy Coburn, told local news media outlets.

A nearby scout leader and local nurse were among the first responders to the scene and began treating the teens. Ventura County Sheriff's deputies, Ventura County Firefighters and even a bomb squad unit was called to the school and conducted a search for clear the scene.

From Phil Shuman:

"Everyone was sad, everyone was crying." That's how one student described the day at Thousand Oaks High School after the news spread of the unusual and tragic and accidental death of a senior named Bernard Moon.

Apparently Moon and a friend were experimenting with a rocket motor, trying to attach it to a skateboard to power it, when there was an explosion. Moon died, his friend survived but is injured. What due they were using that exploded, whether there was a teacher or a supervisor there , still unknown. It happened on the yard of an elementary school last evening.

The Conejo Valley Unified School District has been conspicuous in its silence, simply posting an announcement on their website (( expressing sympathy for the family and thanking first responders. The standard ''crisis counselors are available'' information was given out, but how do you explain something like this High Schoolers in a way they can deal with or understand or accept of process. Here one minute, gone the next.

We kept our distance from the students who clearly didn't want to talk to us about this, understandable that they were upset and if they wanted to take their anger and frustration out on the news crews there to report on this, okay fine. As one school parent told me, ''It's so sudden it's so final, for kids who you normally see every day . ''

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