An 18-year-old student at Thousand Oaks High School in California died Monday night after a homemade bottle rocket exploded outside an elementary school, authorities say.
Bernard Moon was killed in the blast and an unidentified 17-year-old student was injured, the Thousand Oaks Acorn reports.
Moon and his friend were apparently working on a science project when the explosion occurred, the newspaper reports. The injured teen is expected to survive.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Parents Attending a Girl Scouts Meeting Rushed to Provide Medical Aid to Moon & His Friend
The explosion occurred at about 7:30 p.m. on a handball court at Madrona Elementary School in Thousand Oaks, Ventura County Fire Department Captain Mike Lindbery told the Acorn.
The blast sounded like a “rocket launcher” had gone off and could be heard for miles, the newspaper reports. Kate Elias, a nurse who was with about 20 parents and three children during a Girl Scouts meeting at the school, rushed to help the injured teens along with another nurse.
“We started doing CPR as soon as we heard the sirens . . . there was a little bit of a pulse,” Elias told the Acorn. “She was holding his neck. She didn’t want to let go of his neck because he was bleeding so bad.”
Tammy Coburn, another parent who was at the school, told ABC 7, “Nobody could really discern what it really was because it was a huge explosion, but it was just all at once. Just a ‘boom!’ That was it.”
Moon was taken to a local hospital, where he later died.
2. Moon & a Friend Were Preparing for a County Wide Science Fair
According to the Ventura County Star, the teens were apparently making bottle rockets filled with propane.
The students were apparently preparing for the county wide science fair, which is scheduled for April 20, according to the New York Daily News.
“They’re AP and honor students. Amazing, brilliant kids. That’s why it’s like, ‘How could this have happened to them?’ Because they’re brilliant. They would’ve thought everything out. They would have put this all together the right way. So this was just a horrible, tragic accident,” Tammy Coburn, who was at the school at the time of the explosion, told ABC 7.
Moon placed second in the Ventura County Science Fair last year.
3. Moon Wrote in His Middle School Yearbook That He Wanted to be an Electrical Engineer
Moon played tennis at Thousand Oaks High School, was an aspiring engineer and was in AP classes, including AP Physics. A friend posted a photo of his middle school yearbook, which showed his dream of being an engineer dated back several years:
He also took part in the local Rotary Youth Leadership Awards and went to Boys State summer camp. A friend said on Facebook that he had been accepted by the University of California-Berkeley.
4. Friends Say He Had a ‘Bright Future’ & Was One of the Most ‘Caring, Intelligent & Charismatic Individuals’
Moon’s school posted on Twitter on Tuesday about his tragic death:
Tributes to Moon also poured in from students on Twitter and Facebook.
William Kim, a friend who attended summer camp with him, wrote on Facebook, “It’s been only about 9 months since I have known Bernard, but I can tell you without a doubt that he was one of the most caring, intelligent, and charismatic individuals I have ever met. He had such a bright future ahead of him in college. … Guys, even if you don’t know who Bernard is, please include him in your prayers and please, don’t risk doing anything stupid during this time of the year. We still have a long life ahead of us. Also, don’t take your friends for granted guys. You never know when they will leave.”
Students wore black to school on Tuesday in his honor, and the district said counseling was made available.
The elementary school where the explosion occurred was closed Tuesday as a precaution.
5. Police Are Still Investigating & Say They Are Working to Piece Together the Device That Exploded
Police are continuing to investigate the explosion to determine exactly what happened, the Ventura County Star reports.
Detective Tim Lohman, with the county sheriff’s office, told the newspaper the bomb squad was at the school trying to piece together the device.
“Whenever there is an explosion it is our policy to search to make sure that there are no threats to the community,” Lohman told the Ventura County Star. “Currently no threat to the community or the school was detected.”
Another sheriff’s office official, Captain Garo Kuredjian, told the Los Angeles Times the bottle rocket was homemade, not store bought.
“It appears at this point to be some sort of a tragic accident that occurred,” Kuredjian told the newspaper.
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