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Hudson Valley

Hazmat crews descend on O'Neill HS, 16 students and one teacher sent to hospital

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Albany/HV: Hazmat crews descend on O'Neill HS, 16 students and one teacher sent to hospital
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A frightening school day for students at James O'Neill High School. They saw more than a dozen classmates rushed to the hospital. YNN's Elaina Athans tells what caused the chaos that eventually lead to the entire school being evacuated.

HIGHLAND FALLS, N.Y. -- A chemistry lesson at James O'Neill High School went horribly wrong and sparked a frantic day. Hazmat crews were called to the school. Sixteen students and one teacher were rushed to area hospitals. Students were pulled out of classes and rounded up.

"They told us to evacuate and I didn't know what was going on at all," said O'Neill sophomore Demtra Russian.

"Our whole school was in a gym, like our entire school. All the teachers, like everybody," said O'Neill senior Sam Lasso.

The accident happened at the start of the school day inside a chemistry lab and fog was soon billowing throughout hallways. Parents immediately started getting text messages from their kids. Many showed up at O'Neill.

"It's worrisome," said parent Juan Miranda. "Makes you a little stressful."

There was an emergency early dismissal for students. Orange County Emergency Services saying this was done simply as a precaution.

"They secured the area to make sure it's safe. They’re taking readings to make sure everything is safe. There's nothing to be over concerned about inside the building but we're just going through all our processes and procedures just to make sure that everybody would be safe if they have to go back in," said Orange County Emergency Management Deputy Commissioner Seamus Leary.

Those who were taken to hospitals are expected to be alright. An outside contractor was brought in to check out the premise. A crew did a final clean up and gave the ok things were again safe.

School will reopen Wednesday to students and staff who will try to put this hazmat ordeal behind them. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP