Water, lithium combo may have caused SkyView chemical incident

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SkyView Academy in Highlands Ranch was evacuated after a "chemical incident" at the school.

SkyView Academy in Highlands Ranch was evacuated after a "chemical incident" at the school.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- SkyView Academy in Highlands Ranch was evacuated and five people were taken to a hospital Tuesday after a chemical incident at the school.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Littleton Fire Department and South Metro Fire Department all responded to the school after a chemical device went off, deputies said in a post online.

Sgt. Ron Hanavan of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said it was too early to say exactly what the device was.  He said it was "chemical in nature" and that it had "ruptured" in a classroom.

Tuesday afternoon deputies said their initial investigation determined the rupture was "not an accident" and they are pursuing the matter as a criminal investigation.

Two juvenile boys have been taken into custody, Hanavan said. Because they are minors, their names will not be released, he said.

The district attorney's office will have to determine if charges will be filled.

"We would ask that parents of SkyView Academy talk with your students and if they have additional information related to this case to contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line 303-660-7579 or speak to their School Resource Officer," Hanavan said.

Technicians were working to determine what exactly the device was and what chemicals were inside it. One student told FOX31 Denver's Chris Jose that she saw two students shaking up a water bottle that contained lithium and water. The combination of the two can cause a small explosion. But as of of Wednesday morning, police had not confirmed if it was that device that had caused the chemical incident.

The five taken to a hospital, four students and one teacher, had respiratory injuries, Hanavan said, but were not seriously injured.

The device ruptured around 10 a.m., Hanavan said. Students were initially taken outside, but then ushered to the gym where they were re-united with parents.

SkyView executive director Lisa Nolan said the evacuation went according to plan.

The school was searched and cleared of any other threats, Hanavan said.

Classes at the school were cancelled for the rest of the day. Tuesday afternoon, the school made the decision to reopen Wednesday as normal.


  • Fast45

    Hickenlooper, Fields, Fagandino! It’s time to do something about the senseless violence!

    Please pass new laws designating our schools to be “chemical-free zones” so we can all feel safe.

  • Grace Wyant Krenrich

    I disagree with not releasing minors names. If they did something that harms another human intentionally then they should be treated like the adults they think they are and maybe some of this stupid and senseless violence will stop.

  • Anonymous student at this school

    You hear about this stuff on the news so much and yeah it’s sad. But it’s an entirely different feeling to be at the school. And it’s an even different horrible feeling to know you’re good friends with the students who did this. I just think it’s horrible how people are taking about then like “the chemical kids”. Like yeah they did a bad thing but haven’t we all? Were human! We should just be happy no one was severely injured.

  • Mike How

    There are consequences for your actions and EVERY decision you make. This applies to everyone. These 2 students will have to face the consequences of their bad decisions. This is the real world. And whether you are severely injured or not, the point is, there WERE people injured! That is simply WRONG and these students will have to take responsibility!!

  • Kiss Of Anarchy

    Do you really think these people are going to be unscathed by the law? this made the top news story tonight and a chemical bomb is pretty serious. Not to mention several people were hospitalised. It would be foolish to say they aren’t going to face consequences. Everyone at the school knows who they are and what they did. The rest of the world doesn’t need to know. As for the “chemical laws”, I know one of the students personally and he did not obtain any of the materials from school. Save maybe the water. Not to mention it went off during Latin class if I’m not mistaken…

  • Mike How

    The point is for all students reading this blog…. Everyone makes decisions. Some good. Some bad. Make ‘Good’ decisions that will lift you up in the world!!

  • Test

    ” I know one of the students personally and he did not obtain any of the materials from school. ”

    Water is readily available at every school I’ve seen.

    It’s not like you can buy lithium(or sodium) in metallic form at Walgreens. If the reactive metal was not from the school chem lab where did it come from?

    It’s funny, when a kid acts on a dumb idea and no body gets hurt they still throw the book at them. When a politician acts on a dumb idea and loads of people get hurt we re-elect them. Is it any wonder our kids are confused?

  • ryan

    This article makes it out to appear like these kids built a bomb and then attacked the school with it. But the quote about the kids shaking the bottle tells me that they were just goofing around and werent aware of what would happen. And this talk about the device “ruptured.” Tells me that because of the pressure that it exploded. Not in a fireball explosion but in as in baloon popping explosion. Except it was filled with a poisonous gas, not precious precious helium. It probably just made a loud pop and it was no problem until people started coughing and what not. Stupid, and the kids likely deserve some shock and awe… to make it clear just how stupid it was. But seriously… ruin their lives over what amounts to a prank? My HS chemistry teacher allowed us to make our own small energetic reactions. Such as generating hydrogen gas and then igniting it. THis isnt much different except the dumbasses didnt know what they were doing and what they were about cause.

    This article is sensationalistic BS.

  • Kiss of anarchy

    @mikehow: teens seldom heed advice from strangers on the internet.

    @test: I added save maybe the water. I would think this is apparent. Don’t misconstrue my words. The lithium was extracted a little bit at a time from AA batteries. It probably took a whole to accumulate enough. And well, that’s politics for you. The difference between teens and politicians is money, connections, propaganda, etc. that’s why it happens.

    @ryan: of course it’s sensationalist it’s the media. However, it mos certainly was not accidental. He was fully aware that lithium reacts with water. If I’m not mistaken he even loaded the bottle with small nails. I don’t know why but I do know it was no mistake.

  • Kiss of anarchy

    Also injuries weren’t severe but 5 were hospitalized as a precaution due to chemical burns and respiratory problems.

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