April Fools’ spray: Pepper spray high school prank hospitalizes 26 students

© Hannibal Hanschke
Emergency vehicles were called to an Iowa high school after a can of pepper spray exploded in the cafeteria. The April Fools’ Day prank hospitalized 26 students. Parents are demanding tougher security measures.

At around 12:20pm, the last lunch period of the day at Williams Intermediate School, 60 students were sitting in the cafeteria when Lealia Stentz, 13, eating her lunch, thought she heard poppers. She told the Quad-City Times, “someone put pepper spray in those.

District spokesperson Dawn Saul confirmed that 26 students were sent to area hospitals and told KWQC, “some of the students who were in the cafeteria did experience reactions and any student who had known breathing difficulties were examined right away.

Craig Cooper, spokesman for Genesis Health System, also told KWQC that all 26 students had respiratory symptoms with irritated throats and eyes, but that everyone was expected to recover. Most of the students had been discharged by 3:20pm and he did not expect any of them to be held overnight.

According to the school’s website, school dismissal occurred at the regularly scheduled time. However, parents are still worried about what the incident means for their children.

Amber Timmerman’s son was not in the lunchroom when the pepper spray was released, but he was still shaken by the whole thing. He texted his mother to pick him up, and now she is upset that the pepper spray even got into the building in the first place.

“Terrifying. It terrified me. I was scared. There needs to be more, uh security at the schools. Checks at the doors. At every school. I mean, this has been going on forever with other schools. You would think that every school now days would have better security. So, I mean, it just, it just terrifies me,” Timmerman said to KWQC.