Thirty students from Lincoln County schools and a school bus driver were taken to a hospital Wednesday morning after the driver found that two high school boys were mixing rubbing alcohol and a bag of swimming-pool chemicals on the bus.
The boys, ages 14 and 16, were charged with wanton endangerment and possession of an explosive device and sent to the Adair County Juvenile Detention Center, Lincoln County Sheriff Curt Folger said.
He said the teens would remain at the center until Thursday, when they're scheduled to go before a judge.
The school bus was traveling on U.S. 27 in Waynesburg between 7:30 and 8 a.m. to make a stop at Waynesburg Elementary School.
Never miss a local story.
About a half-mile from the school, the driver smelled something unusual, stopped the bus and had all the students get out, Lincoln County Schools director of operations Ronnie Deatherage said.
Students from elementary school through high school were on the bus.
Initially, seven students complaining of respiratory problems were sent to Ephraim McDowell Fort Logan Hospital in Stanford, but the hospital ended up seeing everyone from the bus "just to be on the safe side," Deatherage said.
Thirty-seven people were treated by the hospital, Ephraim McDowell spokesman Rick Smith said. In addition to the 30 students, doctors treated two bus drivers, four parents and a nurse from the hospital who first came into contact with the students.
The hospital was placed on a "Code Orange" alert once it started receiving those who had been affected by the fumes, and the emergency department went into "lockdown mode," Smith said. The procedure was a precaution to prevent further exposure to the contaminant.
Smith said the students' belongings, such as clothing and backpacks, were decontaminated in a special shower.
Most of those seen at the hospital were treated for nausea, skin irritation and eye irritation, Smith said.
The bus was taken to the bus garage, where a hazardous materials team from Pulaski County decontaminated it, Deatherage said. The bus was deemed safe, but Deatherage said it wasn't used at the end of the day as an extra precaution. The driver, who suffered from eye irritation, was sent home for the rest of the day.
The high school students who mixed the chemicals told police they weren't trying to hurt anyone — they were just trying to show off.
The students confessed to mixing the chemicals when officers interviewed them after they were treated at the hospital, according to Folger, the sheriff. The students told officers they were trying to pull a prank they'd seen on YouTube. Folger said the boys were trying to create "a little bit of an explosion," then toss the chemicals out the window of the bus.
"It was pretty much a prank that went bad," he said. "There was no intentional harm to anyone."