Gas leak at Lees-McRae College sends 60 to hospital


BANNER ELK, N.C. — A gas leak forced a dorm at Lees-McRae College to evacuate, leaving dozens of students displaced.

The leak happened at Avery Hall. Officials tell us the dorm is an all-women’s housing, holding about 150 students. The good news is they tell us no one suffered any serious injuries

Avery Hall closed Friday after school officials say a gas leak last night evacuated the building and sent several dozen students to area hospitals.

“I’m happy to report as of right now all the students are out of hospital back on campus or on their way home and they are doing fine. There were no major medical injuries issues,” said Dr. Lee King, President of Lees-McRae College. 

Nausea and headaches the majority of the symptoms students suffered from according to King.

Kara Cunningham and Cassie McFadden were two of those approximately 60 students who went to the hospital last night.

“It was a gas smell but like a funky type an old food type smell and not only did I smell it, but everyone else did,” McFadden said. 

“I started to get a really bad headache and I felt like I was going to throw-up, and I started getting dizzy like I was going to pass out, so I had to be transported to the hospital because I had like a level of eight out of 10 carbon monoxide in me so we were just being safe about,”said Cunningham. 

Students were able to get back into their dorms to pick up items, but were moved to another part of campus while the investigation continues.

Dr. King and students admit for such an unusual situation, the quick response and following protocol made things go pretty smoothly.

“Everybody did what they were supposed to do. Everybody went out and followed procedures,” McFadden said. 

“The community response to this was unbelievable. When I got here this morning. We had Avery County EMS, local law enforcement, even Avery County public schools sent activity buses to transport student to the hospital,” said King. 

The cause of this gas leak is still under investigation. The school’s president adds there is no timetable right now about when the students can get back into their dorm.

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