WDAD NEWS, sponsored by IRMC at Chestnut Ridge
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Teacher flown to UPMC Mercy, in fair condition


A Derry High School chemistry teacher was airlifted to UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh yesterday after an explosion in his classroom lab.  35-year-old Brian Clawson of Mount Pleasant Township suffered burns to his face, neck, chest, and hands when a mixture of potassium nitrate and sugar blew up, igniting his shirt collar and spraying him with a powdery compound. 


Students praised Clawson for hustling them out of the lab before he thought of himself as another teacher ran in to help the stricken teacher.  Several students were checked out for minor injuries and one for a slight injury when she tripped as the school was evacuated.  One student was released into the custody of his parents.


Neither Clawson nor his students were wearing any protective clothing or eyewear, despite potassium nitrate being the main ingredient in gunpowder.  The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate the accident.


The accident happened at about 11:40 AM.  The school went on lockdown, but classes returned to normal and after-school activities went on as scheduled.

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