School gym back open hit by vehicle

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SILOAM SPRINGS — Students are back to class in the intermediate school gym after a pickup truck hit the building in the early hours of Jan 5.

A structural engineer inspected the building on Tuesday morning and while there is significant damage, the structure of the building is completely intact and there are no safety issues, according to Assistant Superintendent Shane Patrick.

The holes in the building were boarded up and students returned to the gym for physical education and band classes by Tuesday afternoon, he said.

“Before we put students or faculty back in that facility, we made sure it was structurally safe and we barricaded the area off so that nobody could get to the damaged area,” Patrick said.

The investigation of the incident is on going, according to Capt. Derek Spicer of the Police Department. Police have talked to several persons of interest but no citations or warrants had been issued as of Thursday, he said. Spicer identified the vehicle involved as a Ford F-150.

School surveillance cameras show the vehicle was traveling westbound on Cheri Whitlock Drive about 3:30 a.m. when it lost control, jumped the curb on the south side of the road, then came back across the north side of the road, and went through the ditch before hitting the east wall of the building, leaving several holes, Patrick said on Tuesday.

The school building will require major repairs, Patrick said. An engineer and a construction company have assessed the damage and school officials are waiting for a cost estimate, he said.

Fire alarms at the school sounded on Thursday morning and the Fire Department responded and found no threat to students or staff, according to a post on the school’s Facebook post.

The alarm was accidentally triggered while school staff members were building a wall around the damaged area in the gym to keep people away from the area when repairs begin, Patrick said.

“There was never a fire or anything,” he said.

Janelle Jessen may be reached by email at [email protected]

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