A 16-year-old high school student Malachi McFadden has suffered third-degree burns following a botched chemistry experiment.
It follows a mistake by a teacher during the presentation aimed at whipping students’ enthusiasm about chemistry. The demonstration sparked fire and burnt uncontrollably and seriously injuring McFadden.
Bridgette Blowe, the High School teacher, according to reports, “froze in pure shock” when the inferno grew out of control, spreading across the desk and setting her student in the front row on fire, students and staff, told CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL-TV.
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With head down, McFadden didn’t see the flame coming, suffering third-degree burns on his face, neck, and torso and was hospitalized. The incident happened at Redan High School, just outside Atlanta.
McFadden’s lawyers on Wednesday released a report by an investigator for the DeKalb County School System that found out that Blowe failed to provide protective or advise the boy to stand 10 feet away, as mandated, WGCL-TV further reported.
In the report was Blowe’s statement which the 36 years old said she’s successfully done the demonstration — lighting an accelerant-soaked bill on fire — in previous years and for two other classes this year. In this particular class, the flame didn’t burn out completely, Blowe wrote, “so I attempted to extinguish the flame with water, but I reached for the alcohol instead, by mistake.”
According to the report, dated October 21, Blowe violated district standards and that Regional Superintendent Sean Tartt recommended Blowe be fired, but Principal Janice Boger recommended she be suspended and receive training on classroom safety despite admitting she had “made an awful mistake”.
Blowe has been placed on administrative leave. No disciplinary action has been taken against him thus far as the district is “reviewing training and safety protocols for its science labs.”
McFadden’s lawyer L. Chris Stewart has served notice that they will likely end up suing for damages to cover his pain and suffering, as well as past and future medical costs, including plastic surgery, CBS News reports.
“The only thing for them to do is to accept responsibility for it,” Stewart said of the school district.
McFadden told The Associated Press that his hands still hurt constantly, missing, playing baritone saxophone in the band along with playing football and basketball. He hopes to return next semester.
There are reports about students being injured in chemistry class demonstrations in recent years, including one at a Manhattan high school that caused burns on about 31% of a student’s body in 2014. In July, a jury awarded that student nearly $60 million in damages for past and future pain and suffering.