VISALIA, Calif. – Detectives are questioning a 13-year-old boy Friday after they say he brought two balloons filled with cocaine to a middle school, exposing more than a dozen students to the drug.
Carl F. Smith Middle School in Terra Bella was flooded with panicked parents on Friday after reports that cocaine had made its way to the playground.
At least 13 students were exposed and two students were hospitalized, deputies said.
Maricela Madrano arrived at the school to pick up her daughter for a dentist appointment. She was shocked to learn about the incident.
“I’m very concerned for my daughter’s safety at school after today,” Madrano said.
“The school should give more attention to the kids," she said. "This is scary.”
Tulare County sheriff's detectives and medical personnel were called to the school around 8:30 a.m. after students reported finding two balloons filled with a "mysterious white substance."
Initially, the school staff thought it was flour and were going to "wash it away." They called 911 as a precaution and dispatchers told them to leave the substance where it was, school officials said.
Narcotics detectives were then called.
"They verified that it was cocaine," said Nick Garcia, director of business services for Terra Bella Union Elementary School District.
Paramedics were called and began treating numerous students.
"The reason (the students) contacted school staff is they were messing with the balloons and they pulled open the balloons and saw white powdery substance and two students became very dizzy," said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.
Preliminary tests showed the students were not under the influence of the drug, Boudreaux said.
Two students became dizzy and were taken to Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville as a precaution, he said.
Boudreaux said paramedics and detectives remained on scene while they gathered clues and ensured students were safe.
Classes resumed after the campus was cleared for drugs, Boudreaux said.
Through the department's investigation, it was discovered that a 13-year-old boy brought the cocaine onto campus.
Police dogs were used and detected cocaine on the student's shirt.
"He is currently being interviewed by detectives," Boudreaux said at a press conference Friday afternoon.
A search of the student's home was also being conducted, Boudreaux added.
"I've sent the world," Boudreaux said. "Our community and children are a priority."
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