At Cardinal Gibbons High School in Florida, Monday started off basically like a normal day. At the Catholic school, students were apparently happy because of a big football playoff win that happened on Friday, and a Thanksgiving prayer service was being attended in preparation for the classically American holiday.
However, late that morning, something totally unexplainable and nightmarishly bizarre started to happen: 26 students and 1 adult became extremely ill. “I go to cardinal gibbons, we are under lock down,” said a student who witnessed the scene on Twitter, going by the username Carter. “We are all freaking out. One kid in our class doesn’t look good. I and a few others feel loopy. They need to let us out.” Another thirty minutes later he added “all we can do is pray.”
Later reports confirmed that the students were suffering through a very wide range of symptoms, some of which were rather severe: from nose bleeds to full-blown seizures.
No one can explain why. People who understand factors that cause health problems that most people don’t know about probably have their imaginations running wild upon reading this story, but even for these people, it’s not easy to tell exactly what happened here.
A short amount of time after Carter tweeted that out, school authorities added on Twitter that some “students fell ill during a prayer service,” and that “in an abundance of caution,” the school had actually been put on lockdown by the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense if you think about it, to contain the students inside the school in specific after such an event. It depends on where they started feeling ill: if they started feeling ill outside it would make sense to keep them inside, but clearly it was time to send those kids home or something.
An hour later, the school confirmed that the campus had been “cleared” and all the students had been released to be picked up as usual.
Then, the local news outlets like WPTV, WPLG and the Sun Sentinel arrived at the scene to capture something even worse than what had been described up until that point: students suffering from seizures, dizziness, nosebleeds, nausea, and even fainting. Some were hospitalized, and they ended up recovering.
Students were being transported into ambulances. Principal Paul Ott confirmed that the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department had gone out to survey the scene in hazmat suits, and they tested the place for dangerous chemicals and weren’t able to find any. The exact tests or chemicals they were looking for were not specified.
Battalion chief Stephen Gollan said “There is no rhyme or reason at this time,” in a statement to the Sentinel. “We really don’t know. It’s very, very weird.”
Fort Lauderdale, Florida is one of the spots where that health problem-causing “red tide” of toxic algae hit earlier this year, and then during the hurricane season people were concerned that the storms would bring the toxins further inland.
However, there’s nothing whatsoever to suggest that was the cause of this, because red tide chemicals don’t appear to be anywhere near that school.
Chemicals and products that people are meant to ingest or be given for medical treatments, pesticides sprayed nearby, all kinds of things could have played a role in this situation but it remains a complete mystery. Did these kids receive any kind of medical treatment before this event?