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Students, staff evacuated from Broward school after partial roof collapse

Nobody was hurt when the roof of a media center that was under construction at James S. Rickards Middle School in Oakland Park came crashing down Friday morning.
Nobody was hurt when the roof of a media center that was under construction at James S. Rickards Middle School in Oakland Park came crashing down Friday morning.

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. – Students and staff members were evacuated from James S. Rickards Middle School on Friday morning after the roof partially collapsed in the media center, which is under construction and had nobody inside.

The incident occurred around 10 a.m.

Oakland Park spokeswoman Shannon Vezina confirmed that there was a water leak at the school at 6000 NE Ninth Ave. that resulted in the partial roof collapse, which left behind extensive damage.

A total of 184 students and 55 staff members were on campus when the incident occurred. They were evacuated to Northeast High School, where parents could pick up their children.

Broward County Public Schools confirmed that no one was inside the media center when the incident occurred, however Local 10 News reporter Hatzel Vela was later told that 13 students and staff members were checked out on campus by first responders, five of whom were taken to hospitals.

The injuries were said to be minor and not directly related to the roof collapse, but rather for experiencing symptoms such as headaches and nausea.

Students and staff members were evacuated from James S. Rickards Middle School Friday morning after the roof partially collapsed in the media center.
Students and staff members were evacuated from James S. Rickards Middle School Friday morning after the roof partially collapsed in the media center.

Students who were physically attending the school will revert back to virtual learning from home next week, the district said.

Authorities said the school principal heard two loud bangs before discovering the roof had partially collapsed.

“Before 10 o’clock this morning the principal was in his office when he heard a noise, which was followed by a subsequent noise,” said Keyla Concepcion of Broward County Public Schools.

The media center has been under construction as part of an ongoing $10 million project since the middle of last year.

Fire rescue officials searched the building to make sure nobody was trapped.

“We also brought a dog in to search the entire school to make sure no one was in there, and also a drone to check and make sure there no one in the roof that may have gotten hurt during the collapse,” said Chief Steve Krivjanik of the Oakland Park Fire Department.

Local 10 News spoke to parents who rushed out to pick up their children.

“I panicked,” one said. “I literally just got off the shower put some clothes on and came straight here.”

Students and staff members were evacuated from James S. Rickards Middle School Friday morning after the roof partially collapsed in the media center.
Students and staff members were evacuated from James S. Rickards Middle School Friday morning after the roof partially collapsed in the media center.

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.