Falling glass cause unclear

Investigation continues into atrium ceiling failure at RCC/SOU center
A glass panel at the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center broke into chunks and fell from a third-floor atrium Monday, hitting two students in the first-floor lobby. Neither was seriously injured..Bob Pennell

Officials at the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center in downtown Medford are working to determine how a large glass panel broke free Monday from a third-story atrium and rained chunks of glass on students below, sending one to the hospital.

"We don't know what caused the glass to fall ... it might take several days," said Margaret Bradford, director of marketing and recruitment for the Rogue Community College.

The area beneath the atrium will remain closed until the broken panel and several others hanging around it are examined by engineers and deemed safe, Bradford said.

She said the panels are designed to direct any smoke in the building toward a smoke detector.

Engineers with Adroit Construction, whose crews built the building, were on scene Tuesday inspecting the panels.

"Adroit has been to the Higher Education Center. They are still investigating the situation and working with the college to come up with a solution," Bradford said. "They don't know how it happened at this point."

Bradford said the college doesn't suspect anybody of breaking the panel.

The roughly 3-by-6-feet piece of tempered glass shattered as it broke away from its wall fasteners and fell onto a group of tables and chairs inside the building's entrance lobby at about 4 p.m. Monday, she said.

"It wasn't a big sheet of glass that fell down, it was several pieces. Nonetheless, it is not a situation we want to put our students in," Bradford said.

Allie Holmbeck, 18, said the sound of the falling panel was heard clearly from inside her classroom on the second floor and caused her instructor to leave the room to see what happened.

"It literally sounded like somebody ran into the building with a car, Holmbeck said. "It was really loud."

The falling glass struck two students, Bradford said, sending a female to the hospital. The student was treated for minor cuts and released, she said.

"Another piece apparently struck a student on the head and caused a bump on his head, and he opted to not go to the hospital," she said.

Bradford said another student called 911 after seeing the female student was injured.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.

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