Source of Fraser school evacuation unknown; students, staff expected to recover
(WJBK) - Frightening moments in Fraser as 12 students and two teachers become violently ill forcing an entire school to evacuate.
An investigation is underway to find out exactly what happened.
"The way I saw everyone running downstairs I'm like what is happening," said student Jordan Akins.
More than a dozen people were taken away in ambulances at the Arts Academy in the Woods in Fraser Thursday.
"I started to freak out for a couple friends of mine because they were not looking so good," said student Alex McRobb.
Fraser police say at least 12 students and two teachers -- have been taken to three hospitals -- after becoming sick inside a classroom.
FOX 2: "What did they say they were feeling?"
"Nauseous, pain all over their body, headaches," McRobb said. "Red in the face, some of them sweating. A couple people were puking all over, it was just bad."
Originally taking the sick students and teachers out of the classroom, the high school's principal Michael Mitchell says he quickly called 911 and began evacuating the building of about 400 people.
"When I was evacuating the building I came back outside and kids were being seen by paramedics," Mitchell said.
Mitchell says those students and teachers had only been inside a classroom for about 20 minutes when they started feeling sick.
"The class just started so they were just in there for a little while," Mitchell said. "And they said they noticed the kids started coughing so left and went to an empty room."
The odor in the air is described as a strong sawdust smell. Sick students and teachers were seen taken away in ambulances as police, fire and HAZMAT crews arrived.
"There was some smell there but nothing by that time even the people who were in there said that it kind of dissipated," said Lt. Mike Pettys, Fraser police.
With HAZMAT crews on scene most of the day Mitchell and police say the building has since been cleared and believe the illnesses may have been caused by something brought into the school like pepper spray.
"It could've been an irritation thing, there could be long-term effects," Pettys said. "We just don't know at this time."
Mitchell says as a precaution, a mechanical team will be taking a look at the ventilation system and classes are cancelled Friday as everyone thinks of those students and teachers who are thankfully, expected to be okay.
"I'm just really hoping everything is going to be okay for them," said Akins.