Basalt students charged in school pepper-spray case
Ryan Summerlin November 20, 2012
BASALT – Two 16-year-old boys accused of exposing students and faculty to pepper spray at Basalt High School last month were formally advised of the charges against them in Pitkin County District Court on Monday.
Each was charged with one Class 3 felony, use of a chemical weapon, along with four misdemeanors: third-degree assault, interference with faculty or students of an educational institution, reckless endangerment and criminal use of a noxious substance. The pepper-spraying incident occurred Oct. 12.
Several alleged victims attended Monday’s advisement. The next court proceeding in the case has been set for Dec. 3.
The incident, an apparent prank, caused some students and faculty to become sick. Basalt Police said it also incited fear among more than 400 students and faculty at the school.
Nearly 50 students, faculty and administrators were exposed to the chemical, said Matt Avidan, deputy chief of emergency medical services for the Basalt Fire Department. Of those, 41 displayed symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing and tearing eyes. Some of them later vomited because of muscle spasms caused by a reaction to the chemical.
Three students were transported to local hospitals. One student with asthma experienced breathing trouble from the chemical. The medical experts with the Fire Department advised the school to send the students who were exposed home so they could take a shower to ease the effects.
Because the incident occurred during a lunch period, many students were off campus. That possibly limited the exposure.
Medical responders from Thomasville, Carbondale and Aspen assisted the Basalt Fire Department.
Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies responded to assist, as well.