11 students hospitalized after suspected chemical exposure at Spanish Fork school

Posted at 12:26 PM, Oct 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-10 23:57:30-04

SPANISH FORK, Utah — Eleven students at Spanish Fork's Mountainland Applied Technology College were hospitalized Monday morning, after suddenly showing mysterious symptoms of illness.

The college immediately evacuated the campus, and cancelled classes for most of the day.

"We were just like... 'What is going on?'" said student Shandee Bills, one of the eleven to end up in the hospital.

While she only suffered a headache, she said some of her classmates showed symptoms worse than hers starting last week.

"She's like, 'Yeah all of a sudden, I just got dizzy and I couldn't hear or see anything,'" Bills recounted, of her classmate.

That person passed out, Bills said. Spanish Fork Police said the school put EMTs on standby when students felt sick last week.

When again people began falling ill and passing out on Monday, Bills said the college ordered everyone to get out.

"All of a sudden they're like, 'Evacuate!' And then, 'Go to the hospital,'" Bills said.

"We were worried about carbon monoxide poisoning," explained Mark Middlebrook, the MATC Director of Marketing.

Spanish Fork Police, the fire department and a local gas company responded. They figured out carbon monoxide wasn't to blame.

"It was determined that possibly some cleaning chemicals were mixed with ammonia, to clean the cosmetology lab area," Lt. Matt Johnson with Spanish Fork Police said.

But, Middlebook said, the school didn't do anything differently than on any other day. So, why so many students felt sick remains a bit of a mystery.

"Not sure exactly why this situation occurred, but we'll basically keep an eye on that and monitor day-by-day," he said.

MATC reopened and resumed night classes on Monday.

"The doctor told me that everybody was okay, that everybody seemed to check out like me," Bills said.

Middlebrook said all students were released from the hospital on Monday evening.