Fence falls at Aspen Middle School, injuring several students | AspenTimes.com

Fence falls at Aspen Middle School, injuring several students

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

Several Aspen Middle School students were injured when a barrier fence fell on them as they were leaving recess for lunch Wednesday. Parents and school officials said the quick help from staff and students in many ways turned a negative experience into a positive one.

Hunter Love, 10, is a fifth-grader at the middle school and was walking back toward the school around 12:15 p.m. as her recess period ended. Suddenly, a temporary fence that had been installed before the school year to separate the playground from a construction area fell on Hunter and several of her classmates.

A number of students and school staff immediately helped get the fence off of the children, witnesses said.

"It was a little scary and freaky," Hunter said. "I really appreciated the other kids helping us right away."

The school nursing staff also was part of the immediate help. After determiningthat most of the injuries were mild, the school notified parents.

Hunter's mother, Melanie Love, said the school has been helpful and proactive in making sure the students were taken care of.

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"The school encouraged us to make sure our children were OK," Melanie Love said. "They offered to pay for any medical bills and reiterated they would help in any way needed. It sounds like it was totally an accident and bad timing."

Hunter Love suffered a mild concussion and some minor bruising but was fine otherwise. Several of her friends stopped by her home Wednesday evening to check up on her and told her just how much the other students helped their fallen classmates.

One child was treated in the emergency room Aspen Valley Hospital for a concussion, said a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"As a parent, I'm extremely proud of the kids who helped," Melanie Love said. "I was told there was no hesitation whatsoever. Obviously we have some students that were taught well."

Melanie Love also commended middle school Principal Tom Heald for his attentiveness. She said that Heald called her twice Wednesday, showing genuine concern that her daughter was doing OK.

Heald said the fence was not designed to hold weight but was put up as a simple barrier to stop a kicked or thrown ball. The fence since has been set back up with extra reinforcements.

Heald said an investigation into the accident is underway and that appropriate disciplinary actions would be applied to those responsible for the fence failure. Heald also sent an email to parents explaining the incident.

"I don't want to diminish the fear the kids experienced," Heald said. "The accident caused some real trauma, and it was very real. But there were a lot of positive attributes present. All those little guys really helped out and they did it instantaneously. The kids did the right thing when they needed to do the right thing."

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com

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