Homemade Skateboard Rocket Explodes, Killing Student

On Monday, April 4, 2016, a homemade rocket skateboard exploded in flames, killing a high school student and injuring his friend. Investigators on Tuesday were analyzing the events preceding the tragic death of a Southern California high school student to uncover the origins of the explosions.

Bernard Moon, 18, of Thousand Oaks died after the explosion Monday night. A 17-year-old was hospitalized but had no grave injuries to report. The two senior were honor students at Thousand Oaks High School. The blast occurred in a courtyard at Madrona Elementary School in Thousand Oaks.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.56.34 PMThe teens had created a skateboard attached to a homemade rocket as an engine, authorities said. According to , Ventura County sheriff’s Capt. Garo Kuredjian, the rocket was about a foot long and three-quarters of an inch in diameter. “It wasn’t meant to go up into the sky,” he said of the rocket. “It was meant to go horizontally to propel a skateboard.” The blast was “a tragic accident,” he said. It remains unclear whether or not either of the teens had tried to ride the skateboard prior to the explosion. Details of the rocket’s design and the chemicals used were not immediately disclosed. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were meeting at Madrona Elementary when the school suddenly shook. “Nobody could really discern what it really was because it was a huge explosion. It was just all at once. Just a ‘boom!’ ” Tammy Coburn, who was attending the meeting, told reporters.

A nurse who was attending the meeting tried to give Moon medical aid, but he died at a hospital. “Our hearts are broken,” said a posting on Thousand Oaks High School’s Twitter account. “The bonds of faculty, staff, & students will bring healing.” Moon was active in the Ventura County science fair during the years of 2015 and 2014. This year’s fair was scheduled for April 20.

The experiment at the elementary campus wasn’t permitted or known by any school, and the victims likely were using the courtyard because it was an open space, Kuredjian said. Classes at the elementary school northwest of Los Angeles were canceled Tuesday.

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