A chemistry teacher who oversaw a lesson where a student became engulfed in a fireball following an experiment-gone-wrong in 2014 neglected a slew of safety protocols, an expert testified Thursday.
The ‘Rainbow Experiment’ that Anna Poole was conducting when Alonzo Yanes was set on fire, leaving him with third degree burns across 30 percent of his body ‘should never have been done’ said Samuella Sigmann, a professor at Appalachian State University.
Sigmann said the lack of a fume hood – a ventilated enclosure in a chemistry laboratory, in which harmful volatile chemicals can be used or kept – amounted to ‘willful negligence.’
The ‘Rainbow Experiment’ that Anna Poole was conducting when Alonzo Yanes was set on fire, leaving him with third degree burns across 30 percent of his body ‘should never have been done’ said Samuella Sigmann, a professor at Appalachian State University
And the teenagers – who should have been at least 8 feet away away from the demonstration table, were also sitting too close, with Yanes (pictured Thursday center at court), now aged 21, was just two to three feet away, the expert added
‘Because they did not have the proper equipment to do it. There was a clear and present hazard and they ignored it. The risk was very high,’ Sigmann added, the NYP reported.
Listing a catalogue of failures, Sigmann said that the classroom lacked a fire blanket, shower or eyewash, while Poole herself admitted in the deposition that she had never used a fire extinguisher before.
The court heard that although Poole was wearing goggles, her students were not.
And the teenagers – who should have been at least 8 feet away away from the demonstration table, were also sitting too close, with Yanes, now aged 21, was just two to three feet away, the expert added.
Yanes was seen in public for the very first time on Monday after he was hit by a ‘fireball’ during the 2014 incident at Beacon High School.
Listing a catalogue of failures, Sigmann said that the classroom lacked a fire blanket, shower or eyewash, while Poole herself admitted in the deposition that she had never used a fire extinguisher before
He told Manhattan Supreme Court how he felt ‘the fire eat away at my skin and eat away at my flesh’ adding that the pain was ‘unbearable’.
In harrowing testimony Alonzo said: ‘I remember feeling this intense burning sensation. It kept going and going, and I quickly realized I was on fire.
‘I yelled out, ‘Hot! Hot!,’ and I dropped to the floor, and I started to stop, drop and roll, because that is what you are supposed to do.’
‘I was flapping around on the ground, but nothing was helping me. I was still on fire. I remember feeling the fire eat away at my skin and eat away at my flesh, and it was charring me the way a piece of meat chars in a frying pan.
‘I heard someone yell out, ‘Oh, my God!’ I heard my own body on fire, a sizzling sound by my ear, the cartilage melting away,
‘I held my breath for as long as I could. But nothing was working. I was hopelessly burning alive, and I couldn’t put myself out, and the pain was so unbearable.’
Alonzo Yanes was seen in public for the very first time Tuesday after he was hit by a fireball during the 2014 incident at Beacon High School. Alonzo is pictured before the incident left and after right
Anna Poole leaves a civil trial in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday. Poole, a chemistry teacher at the Beacon School, was demonstrating a chemical reaction to the class in 2014 when the incident happened, jurors were told
Claudio Yanes, right, and Yvonne Yanes, the parents of Alonzo Yanes leave a civil trial in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday. Yvonne testified Tuesday in a $27 million civil trial against the Department of Education and teacher Anna Poole
Alonzo and his family are testifying in a $27 million civil trial against the Department of Education and teacher Anna Poole, The New York Post reports.
Poole was demonstrating a chemical reaction to the class, the court heard, and is accused of pouring flammable liquid from a fume-filled container onto a lit crucible.
Victim Alonzo said he heard Poole saying ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I’m so stupid’.
Poole had been carrying out the ‘Rainbow Experiment’, where mineral salts are burned to produce multicolored flames, the court heard.
Alonzo told the court: ‘She poured the methanol into a container, and then without any warning, there was a big whoosh sound — a giant fireball had erupted from the jug. I saw flashes of blue and orange. I heard my classmates go, ‘Whoa! and scream.
‘I reflexively put my arms out to kind of shield myself from the flames that were shooting out towards me.’
Images of the injuries sustained by Alonzo, now 21-years-old, were shown to jurors Monday
Images of the horrific injuries sustained by Alonzo, now 21-years-old, were shown to jurors Monday.
Court papers say he suffered third-degree burns to 30 percent of his body, including to his head, face, neck, torso and hands.
His mom, Yvonne, had earlier told jurors how she was forced to warn her daughter that her brother’s appearance had changed after he suffered third degree burns when he was hit by the flames.
A tearful Yvonne, 51, said she told Alonzo’s younger sister Alana, who was seven at the time of the incident,that her brother ‘did not look the same anymore’.
She recalled she said: ‘He will probably look very scary to you. He will probably look like a monster, like Frankenstein.
Court papers say he suffered third-degree burns to 30 percent of his body
‘He has been patched up a lot. He has staples in him. So he is going to look very different. I just want to let you know, it just might be a little scary.’
Alonzo himself added: ‘The face that was looking back to me, it wasn’t my face. It was like out of a horror movie. My arms were in this giant brace, and I was in this fixed position.
‘It looked deformed. That wasn’t my skin. I looked like Frankenstein or something.
‘The cartilage in my ears had been completely burned off, and most of it was dying tissue. I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I felt like I was becoming less normal. I felt like a freak.’
She added: ‘I remember seeing this huge body and it didn’t look human. It just looked like an alien form moving and flailing around. I didn’t recognize him.’
His mom, Yvonne, said she had to warn Alonzo’s sister about his appearance. ‘He will probably look like a monster, like Frankenstein’, she recalled she said
Yvonne told jurors at first Alana ‘stiffened up’and she ‘kind of stayed away at a distance from him’.
But she said her daughter ‘relaxed as she responded to her brother’s voice’.
When friends came to visit Yvonne said: ‘Some accepted him and some were clearly taken aback by how he looked and his burned appearance.’
She added: ‘But they all tried to be very kind. There was no embracing because he is still sensitive to touch.
‘I didn’t stay around for very long [that day] because it was so painful to watch.’
When it came to Alonzo looking in the mirror, Yvonne added: ‘I tried to prolong that for as long as I could,’ she said, ‘because I don’t want him to see what I was seeing.
‘The face, the way that he looked. I didn’t think he could handle it. He was 16, he was a kid, a teenager. He had just come from a point where he was trying to work on his physique.
‘Now he’s 20 steps behind from where he was starting up from. Now he’s got a longer way to go now with the damage that was done to him.’
Former classmate Julia Saltonstall had earlier told jurors: ‘It just blew up. A fireball just shot out. Took up the entire room.
‘Everyone was yelling. That’s when we saw Alonzo on the floor. He was on fire. His head, torso, arms, squirming on the floor, yelling for help.’