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La Mesa reports tainted bottled water on campus

Students are sent to hospital after they reported drinking the cloudy liquid, officials say

Posted: April 23, 2009 9:38 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Concerns over possible tainted bottles of water sent La Mesa Junior High School students to the hospital Thursday.

A student at La Mesa Junior High School reportedly purchased a bottle of Aquafina water out of a vending machine on campus Thursday, said Pat Willett, a spokeswoman for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

After drinking about one-third of the bottle, a student reportedly felt nauseous, prompting school officials to report the incident and send the boy to the hospital as a precaution, Willett said.

After notifying students about the incident, six students initially came forward, but that number rose to 12 at the end of the day, Willett said. The students were transported to the hospital with similar symptoms of headaches, stomach aches and nausea, she said.

Students that were sent to the hospital have been released.

Students who drank from the bottles reported that the liquid looked cloudy and smelled peculiar, Willett said, adding the Los Angeles County Hazardous Materials is investigating and testing the bottles of water.

Pepsi, which bottles Aquafina, has been notified of the bottled-water scare, Willett said.

Willett speculated the alleged contamination might have come from the bottling plant, as sheriff’s deputies who investigated the incident reported the bottles were sealed when purchased.

“We think it’s soap or some kind of detergent,” Willett said.

La Mesa officials shut down the school’s vending machines and Hart district officials notified other Hart district schools of the batch numbers.

The Aquafina water bottles the district is concerned about have the batch number: 1201fw040191, Willett said. Students who have bottles with that batch number are asked to turn them over to school officials.

An automated message was sent to all La Mesa parents notifying them about the incident, Willett said.

La Mesa student Jamie Taylor, 13, said she took a sip of her friend’s Aquafina water bottle she bought from the student store Wednesday and has been feeling stomach aches.

“It kind of tasted like sink water, soapy,” she said. “It just didn’t taste right. My friend smelled one of the bottles. It smelled like bleach was in it.”

Jamie’s friend was taken to the hospital for treatment, she said.

Willett said the district is unaware of any water-related incidents that took place Wednesday.


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