Beaufort News

Source of odor that sickened Ridgeland High basketball fans still a mystery

Ridgeland High School officials are unsure when the school will reopen after an odor sickened several players and spectators at a basketball game in the gym Friday night.

Between 200 and 300 people were at the game against Allendale-Fairfax when a ventilation unit at the three-year-old school came on, first sickening a basketball player and then others, according to town officials. Illnesses ranged from nausea and vomiting to skin irritation.

Unsure of the cause of the illnesses, emergency responders ordered an immediate lockdown of the school.

Players and fans were moved from the gym to another part of the school. Small groups went through a decontamination process that involved answering questions from emergency responders, Ridgeland Mayor Gary Hodges told the Associated Press.

Those feeling ill had to go through a more rigorous process that involved taking off their clothes to allow responders to search for signs of a rash or spots, he said.

Irritation subsided for the several people who initially had it after they left the gym, the wire service reported.

At least two people were taken to the hospital though no serious injuries were reported. They were treated and released, officials said.Among those locked out of the gym was Jeremiah Faber, Ridgeland's boys basketball coach and the school's athletic director.

"I wouldn't say it was a panicky situation but there were definitely some concerns," Faber said. "I was off-campus at the time of the lockdown and couldn't get back on campus because of the quarantine. I was mostly concerned about not being able to talk to my players."

Hodges told the Associated Press he did not suspect foul play.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is still is working to determine the cause of the odor.

"We don't know what we're dealing with," Hodges said.

Officials had not decided Saturday whether school would be in session Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report