The Daily Caller’s first Gold Star Teacher of the Week for this brand new year is Anna Poole, a chemistry teacher at an elite public high school in New York City who was leading a group of students in a lab experiment that went horrifically awry, seriously injuring one 10th-grade student (and less seriously injuring another).
The incident occurred on Thursday in a third-floor chemistry lab at The Beacon School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, reports the New York Post.
Poole was burning four different nitrates in separate containers to produce red, purple, green and yellow flames. At some sudden point during the “fun” “rainbow experiment,” an explosion occurred, spewing forth a big fireball.
The fireball traveled across a countertop and consumed sophomore Alonzo Yanes.
“Help me! Help me!” Yanes cried.
He immediately plunged to the floor started rolling around. Poole was able to spray him with a fire extinguisher. Perhaps a minute into the disaster, another chemistry teacher burst onto the scene later to throw a blanket on the burning boy.
Severe damage had already been done, however.
“He was burned from his torso up to his hair,” classmate Jeremy Reynoso told the Daily News. “Literally, his left side of his hair, I could not see. This side of his ear, the left, was twisted. His skin was melting. His eyelids were kind of messed up. His skin, a lot of it was melting. I was like, ‘Wow.’”
Reynoso added that Yanes “wasn’t talking or moving” after the flames were doused.
Witnesses said Yanes had been standing just a few feet from the containers of nitrates when the blast occurred. Neither he nor any other students were wearing safety goggles at the time.
“The teacher was reportedly demonstrating how certain chemicals react to others, which you do expect in a science class,” Deputy Fire Chief Anthony Devita told the Post.
Accumulations of methyl alcohol are the likely cause of the fireball, according to fire department officials.
Yanes suffered second- and third-degree burns to his head and upper-body. He was transferred to Cornell Medical Center’s burn unit where he remained overnight.
Another student, Julia Saltonstall, received less severe burns on her hands, neck and head.
Poole was reportedly uninjured but nevertheless deeply shaken by the incident.
Reynoso told the Post that the chemistry teacher chose the rainbow experiment because she “wanted to do something fun.”
“It was just an accident on the teacher’s part,” he added. “I’m assuming the experiment went wrong.”