Pepper spray sends children to hospital

Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Five children were treated at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital after touching bear spray residue Tuesday at a playground.

Karl Kassel, borough parks and recreation department director, said Growden Park playground equipment had been doused with pepper spray sometime prior to midmorning.

''We got a phone call from a parent that informed us that apparently we had an issue with a greasy substance on the playground equipment at Growden that was irritating,'' he said. ''She had gotten some in her eye and it was stinging.''

As a borough employee left to investigate, Kassel's department took a call from Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, which was treating children who had played on the equipment.

The borough employee found the residue, blocked the equipment with tape and went to get help for a cleanup.

''In the interim, more kids got contaminated because they pulled the flagging down from the structure,'' he said.

Emergency room nurse Chris Found said the hospital treated and released five children for skin and eye irritation.

The spray, while irritating, does no permanent damage, Found said. She said flushing eyes with water and washing skin and clothing will generally remove the spray.

An engine from Fairbanks Fire Department sprayed about 500 gallons of water on the playground equipment Tuesday afternoon.

Kassel said crews were to return Wednesday with water and soap for a final washing.

Fairbanks Police Officer David Stevenson said someone apparently sprayed tunnels leading to the slides. The case is basically one of vandalism, he said.

''However there is some reckless endangerment ... because some kids did get hurt.''

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