High Schooler Loses Eye After Chemistry Explosion

Student's family files lawsuit after an experiment in his chemistry classroom goes wrong

By Michael Kaplan and Natalie Martinez
|  Monday, Sep 19, 2011  |  Updated 2:00 PM CDT
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Student Loses Eye After Chemistry Explosion

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A 16-year-old-boy lost his left eye Tuesday after a plastic bottle containing dry ice and water exploded during a chemistry class at a southwest suburban high school, a suit filed Friday claims.

Dillon Mantia was taking part in a chemistry experiment at Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn when the teacher combined dry ice and water in a plastic water bottle and sealed it tightly with a cap, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The teacher then passed the bottle around the class so students could feel and observe pressure building, the suit said.

When Mantia took the bottle, it exploded, causing severe and permanent injuries to the boy's face and hands. The explosion caused "irreparable loss" of sight in his left eye and loss of hearing.

The suit, filed by the boy's mother Kimberly Mantia, said the students were not given safety goggles even though the demonstration was "inherently dangerous" and "involved a highly volatile compound which threatened the safety and well-being of ... all the students present in chemistry class."

In a statement released Monday, the high school said it is reviewing the accident and the teacher has been put on administrative leave, but could not comment further because of the lawsuit.

The suit seeks $150,000 in damages and claims negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, and vicarious liability.

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