Stadium cleared for use, but questions remain


Parents are asking if HISD doesn't know what caused the illness that sent more than two dozen high school students to the hospital, then why are they opening the stadium up to students and parents again?

The gates of HISD's Barnett Stadium have remained locked since last Friday's mysterious medical emergency that resulted in at least 22 students being transported to hospitals.

David Flores, whose daughter fell ill, recalled, "She was heaving, she was convulsing, she couldn't breathe."

"Gasping for air, vomiting," mother Mary Banda described her daughter's symptoms.

Parents from Austin High School's band and dance team can't forget sight of their kids being hospitalized last Friday. For Flores, his daughter's symptoms continued through the weekend, prompting a second hospital visit.

He explained, "Sunday again, we took her because her arms were shaking real bad, she was starting to sweat real bad, she wasn't breathing right. I looked at her and said, you know what, let's go, we got to go!"

Though there are no portable generators at Barnett Stadium, some of the students tested abnormally high for carbon monoxide in their blood. HISD still doesn't know what happened to students, but has decided to open the stadium for high school games next weekend, after a top to bottom survey by the health department and a private firm.

HISD spokesperson Patrick Trahan told Eyewitness News, "Whatever stimuli could have made them sick, we have tested for and we have determined that there is no ongoing or recurrent situation here. So we are very comfortable with opening Barnett Stadium. That's why you do the test."

Frustrated parents argue how can you open the stadium when you haven't figured how the students got sick in the first place?

"I wouldn't, and the reason I wouldn't is because we still don't know what happened that night," Flores said. "Let's say what happened that night happens again. Are you still going to tell us the stadium is clean, we are going to go ahead and use it?"

HISD says the investigation so far has determined that there was an elevated level of exposure to carbon monoxide at the triage area outside the stadium where ambulances and fire engines responded to the scene. Officials believe these elevated carbon monoxide levels may have been caused by idling engines belonging to emergency equipment.

Two games set to play there this weekend were rescheduled, but HISD says that was before the stadium was checked. However, teams will take the field there next weekend.

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