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Currents: accident on campus

Car Accident Causes Propane Leak on Campus and Evacuation of Four Buildings

All involved buildings reopened by 1 p.m.

Sept. 13, 2011 - Two residence halls with about 120 students, Shepard and Austin Halls, and two academic buildings, Reichhold Hall and James House, were evacuated at Colby-Sawyer after a car struck the cylinders of two underground propane tanks at 7 a.m., causing the leak of propane vapors. The power was turned off in the buildings and the area cordoned off, and no one was injured in either the accident or evacuation.

The New London Fire Department and Police Department were called in, with the Sutton Fire Department and the Wilmot Police Department offering support. The fire department immediately began to spray water over the car and the cylinders to disperse the fumes.

By 9:30 a.m., the valve of one propane tank had been turned off and capped. The vehicle remained on top of the valve on the second tank until emergency workers could safely remove it with a tow truck.

What Happened

The incident occurred when a driver misjudged the turn from the college's driveway, known as The Loop, into the parking lot behind Shepard Hall and ended up on top of the two underground propane tanks, damaging the exposed valves and causing them to leak. The driver was not a student.

New London Police Chief David Seastrand says driver error and equipment failure contributed to the incident. No charges will be filed, according to Chief Seastrand.

“This is a testament to the college and the community's great relationship – we're all responding in a way that's emphasizing the students' safety,” said Colby-Sawyer President Thomas C. Galligan Jr., who stood by to watch the scene's resolution. “We're grateful everyone is safe.”

All's Well That Ends Well

Reichhold reopened for classes at 12:30 p.m. James House, Shepard and Austin residence halls reopened at 1 p.m.

-College Communications