Parents, students demand answers after Kate Bond Middle gas leak

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Parents and students are still looking for answers after a gas leak at Kate Bond Middle caused more than 1000 students to be evacuated and several students to become ill.

WREG spoke with the parents and their children who stopped by the school to gather belongings. Students left behind items such as their backpacks and asthma inhalers when they were evacuated from the school Thursday afternoon.

One girl said she was in the classroom while one of her friends got sick. The illness matched the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and raised concern for parents.

“Shortness of breath, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, just a number of things,” said Lt. Wayne Cooke with the Memphis Fire Department.

“He’s been saying he’s been having headaches, so I hope that ain’t what it is,” said Derek Bohanna, who is a parent of a Kate Bond Middle student. “They say they’ve been smelling something since about three weeks ago. They thought it was roach spray or something.”

Families at the middle school today told WREG that they’re hopeful the school will open Monday, but have not been told conclusively by SCS.

When WREG called the school phone system, there was no mention of the closure or a potential re-opening date.

WREG reached out to SCS about additional information discovered by the crews working inside today, but have not heard back.

The fire department is optimistic that the gas leak was isolated within a small area.

“It was only tested in one of the classrooms,” Cooke said. “At this point, our crew is still testing the system. It does not appear that we have and additional readings at this time.”

Jerica Phillips with SCS said they’re still gathering information about the malfunctioning heating unit that reportedly caused the leak.

“That is one of the challenges that we have, around updating our facilities and our equipment,” Phillips said. “So we’re learning more about the age of that particular unit.”

On Friday afternoon, SCS released a statement saying that carbon monoxide was not detected at the school, but the building will continue to be tested through Saturday.

Read SCS’s full statement below:

Based on today’s testing results conducted by G7 Environmental Services at Kate Bond Middle, we can confirm there is no presence of carbon monoxide at the school. However, as a precaution G7 Environmental Services will continue to test the building through tomorrow. Shelby County Schools does not have carbon monoxide detectors in its buildings. State law in Tennessee requires carbon monoxide detectors in facilities with sleeping quarters, such as hotels, however carbon monoxide detectors are not required in schools.

WREG will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

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