Fifty-six students were exposed to pepper spray on their way home from school on Nov. 2 after an 11-year-old girl set off pepper spray on a school bus in the parking lot of Watkins Mills Elementary School. At around 4 p.m., Emergency Medical services were called to investigate an “inhalation emergency..
According to News4, 14 students were taken to a hospital as a precaution, none of whom had life threatening injuries. Emergency workers evaluated 56 students who were exposed to the spray. Two medical ambulances and a hazmat unit were at the school assisting students. The rest of the students were released to their parents. “It’s hard to believe that a girl that young could unintentionally set off a pepper spray device and injure so many kids,” junior Mia Monterio said.
Police are still investigating how the student attained the pepper spray, why she had it and why it went off. A police spokesman says officers were not called to the school. Word of the incident was leaked when Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesperson Pete Piringer tweeted that 56 students were on the bus when they inhaled the substance and that EMS personnel evaluated the students for possible exposure to the pepper spray. Piringer added that a few students experienced minor skin irritation.
Such incidents are uncommon in the Montgomery County area, making this incident hit local headlines. “It’s scary how an 11-year-old girl can get hold of such a dangerous substance and setting it off possibly harming other students on a school bus,” sophomore Alyssa Johnson said.
According to The Washington Post officials think the student sprayed the substance on the bus as it sat in the driveway of Watkins Mill, a spokeswoman said. After the 3:45 p.m. incident, the bus did not leave the parking lot, and all of the students were evaluated, a spokeswoman for the school district, Gboyinde Onijala said.
Watkins Mill Principal Rock Palmisano sent a message to parents and guardians about the incident, according to MCPS spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala.