Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook | Twitter
FLEETWOOD, Pa. (CBS) — A carbon monoxide exposure forced a middle school in Berks County to close Friday, after several students got sick. Students reported feeling dizzy and lightheaded during a play practice at Fleetwood Middle School Thursday night.
The school was evacuated. Through testing, there were elevated levels of carbon monoxide found in people’s blood.
Eyewitness News spoke with one student, a 14-year-old girl who passed out because of it.
“It was like a horrifying experience, we really did not know what was going to happen us,” high school student Paige Rothermel said.
Nine people were rushed to area hospitals after being exposed to carbon monoxide inside Fleetwood Middle School’s auditorium Thursday night.
Rothermel, a freshman at Fleetwood High School, passed out from carbon monoxide poisoning.
“I started feeling a little bit dizzy and I started feeling hot, so I took off my costume and I sat down and I was drinking tons of water,” Rothermel said. “And then that’s kind of really the last thing that I remember.”
Her mom got a phone call.
“We were trying to get her to get up and out of the school, so that way she could get away from the carbon monoxide,” Jacqui Rothermel said.
“It was tough because she was having problems, she would pass out every time she got up, so they were able to escort her out and get her onto the ambulance to the hospital.”
Paige Rothermel was rehearsing as part of an outside group called Fleetwood Community Theater.
The group has adults and children, which range from the second grade to the 11th grade.
They were rehearsing for a play called “The Stinky Cheese Man,” when a series of students and adults became lightheaded and nauseous.
Fire crews and emergency management found no signs of carbon monoxide through their meters.
The superintendent is determined to find the cause.
“I’m certainly concerned for the safety and well-being of our students, our staff, our community, and we’re doing everything in our power to ensure that this won’t happen again and to ensure that there isn’t a pre-existing problem that caused this,” superintendent Dr. Greg Miller said.
With school closed Friday, Paige is concerned because her younger brother is a student at the middle school.
“By Monday, I feel like the school will be OK and I will just be a little scared for him to come back,” she said.
The cause of the carbon monoxide is still under investigation. It’s not yet clear if classes will resume on Monday.
The play was set to debut Friday, but has now been postponed.