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School probes needle incident

John Colson

A local parent said Friday he is “livid” that his daughter may have been stuck with a hypodermic needle at the recent Aspen High School Homecoming dance.

The school’s investigation of the incident indicates that the needle belonged to a diabetic student who used it at some point during the dance and then misplaced it. Officials were unclear about where the investigation will go from here.

“I’m on it every day,” said the father, whose eighth-grade daughter reported that she may have been jabbed with a needle while dancing in a circle with a large group of students at the Oct. 7 Homecoming dance.

“I’m livid, I’m beside myself,” he continued, explaining that he is angry that someone might use a needle to jab students at a high school dance.

“It’s moved to a whole new level,” he said, maintaining that dealing with drinking, fights and other typical high school behavioral problems is hard enough, but that the presence of needles in the school represents a new level of danger.

The man’s daughter and a male student told school officials and police that they may have been stuck with a needle at the dance, and a hypodermic needle was found that night in a sink in the girls’ bathroom at the Bedford Ballroom in Snowmass Village, where the dance was held.

School was not in session on Oct. 9 and 10, which were “in-service” training days for the teaching staff, and AHS Principal Kendall Evans reportedly talked to students about the incident on Oct. 11.

School officials reported that a somewhat distraught mother called the school last week to report that her daughter, a diabetic, had used a hypodermic needle to inject herself with insulin on the night of the dance. But the mother, who was not identified by authorities, said her daughter had dropped the needle and apparently left it in the bathroom without retrieving it.

No one is sure whether a student or some other person picked the hypodermic up and went out to the dance floor with it.

According to Superintendent Tom Farrell, he was told that the girl had “a very small drop of blood on her shoulder” that a teacher covered with a Band-Aid. The boy, Farrell said, apparently had no outwardly visible signs of an injury when he talked with a teacher.

The students reportedly have been advised to undergo medical testing, and the father said his daughter did so and is doing “fine.” He said she has been inoculated against a variety of diseases in preparation for an international trip.

“She feels great,” he said of his daughter’s frame of mind. “She just didn’t like that she had to go give blood.”

Farrell said that a Colorado Department of Health official talked to him about the incident, and he quoted the official as saying, “The odds of somebody getting a disease from something like that are pretty minimal.”

The father said he has been talking with Evans about the investigation, and that he is pressing to learn the identity of whoever it was that held the needle.

“I want to stop that kid from doing it to someone else,” he declared.

The hypodermic syringe and needle have been sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for analysis, and the father indicated that school officials may have identified students as possible suspects in the incident.

Evans, who Farrell said is in charge of looking into the incident, was out of town until today and could not be contacted about the incident or the investigation.


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