Stagg evacuated after smell in math class doesn’t add up

  • Written by Kelly White

  District officials are still Page-2-3-col-photoStagg High School was evacuated last week after a reported gas leak. Photo by Kelly White.puzzled over a leak that evacuated Stagg High School last week.

  Stagg resumed classes last Thursday morning after a natural gas leak was reported on Wednesday afternoon. Six students and one staff members became sick, prompting an evacuation of the high school in Palos Hills, after they reported a smell within their math class and were transferred to local hospitals, according to officials.
  But it’s not clear what actually was leaking.
  “The source of the unusual smell is still under investigation,” District 230 official Carla Erdey said Monday. “The North Palos Fire Protection District completed testing when the smell was reported that evening and again the next morning and has not detected anything unusual.
  “The district also completed air testing on Friday throughout the weekend and has not pinpointed a source for the smell. The District continues to work with local authorities to investigate the source of the smell. Following thorough inspections and testing by North Palos Fire Protection District and area first responders as well as Nicor Gas, safety officials are confident that the Stagg High School building is safe.”
  Stagg, located at 8015 W. 111th St., was evacuated as a precautionary measure around 1 p.m. last Wednesday afternoon.
  District 230 officials responded swiftly to the strange odor discovered in the mathematics classroom, and all of the students were escorted to three nearby churches — New Beginnings, Sacred Heart Church and Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church until being dismissed at 3 p.m.
  First responders arrived on the scene shortly after the 1 p.m. emergency phone call was made, and the Palos Hills Police Department had blocked off Roberts Road, south of 111th St., with the school being on the southwest corner of that intersection.
  Aside from the North Palos Fire Department, several surrounding area first responders arrived on site including: Orland Park, Evergreen Park, Hometown and a HAZMAT team from Bedford Park. EMS first responders also arrived on site from surrounding areas, including: North Palos, Roberts Park, Bridgeview, Chicago Ridge and Palos Heights. Three Nicor trucks also responded to the call, according to Stagg school officials. The emergency vehicles began leaving the school grounds shortly after 2 p.m., according to school officials.
  Seven people were transported by ambulance from the school — six students and one staff member. These individuals were transported as a precaution.
  “I would like to commend the Stagg High School administration, staff and students for working together in order to maintain a safe environment during this situation,” said District Superintendent James Gay in a statement.
  Officials are still uncertain what caused the odor was, but they have determined that it was not natural gas.
  • In other Palos Hills news, police officer Corey Quiroz was recognized for the off-duty actions he performed in another suburb. He stopped a road rage incident in October while off-duty in Lemont. The officer was just passing through the area on Oct. 13, when witnessing the incident involving two subjects.
  “The aggression (in the incident) was beating the victim with the baseball bat,” Alderman Martin Kleefisch (1st Ward) said at last Thursday’s city council meeting.
  Quiroz immediately stopped and identified himself as a police officer and was able to stop the attack. He held the offender until the Lemont Police Department arrived on the scene, to prevent further injury to the victim.
  “As a result of his actions, the offender was taken into custody, and the victim was safe from any life-threatening injuries,” Kleefisch added.
  Lemont Police Chief Kevin Shaughnessy addressed a thank-you letter, on behalf of the Lemont Police Department, to Officer Quiroz and Chief Paul Madigan stating officer Quiroz represented himself and the Palos Hills Police Department to the highest of standards.
  “Please extend our thanks for his prompt and professional actions at this matter,” Shaughnessy said, “It is to be commended.”