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Bearden bleachers detach, toss students

An estimated 25 Farragut High School students were thrown forward when a bolt attaching a bleacher bench seat to a wall came loose in the Bearden High School gymnasium during the FHS versus BHS boys varsity basketball game Friday night, Jan. 20.

Both school’s principals, Michael Reynolds of FHS and Barbara Jenkins of BHS, reported no injuries following the incident, which occurred late in the third quarter of the game and delayed play for about five minutes.

Happening along the top bench seat of the court level bleachers behind the Farragut team bench — in the Admirals’ student section — Reynolds estimated a 20-foot section came loose and popped forward a few inches from the wall behind the bleachers.

“I was standing right beside of it, I heard it pop,” Reynolds said, adding that the resulting motion of the bleacher bench “pitched the kids forward. ... I’d say you had twenty-five kids it pitched forward. ... They caught their balance, nobody fell down or anything. Actually, because there were so many people there, it kept them from falling. What I was afraid of was just like a domino effect, since it was on that top row.

“But luckily the officer was right there, he responded. Doris Gordon ran up there, and we were able to get the kids off that entire row because it would have continued on down,” Reynolds added. “It was important to get the other kids off before they all pitched forward. Once we moved them off and got them down, it was fine.”

Other than the back row, no other students or spectators in that section of bleachers were moved.

“I came down and underneath because I wanted to make sure that the stands weren’t buckling underneath,” Reynolds said. “So once I saw that the structure was still fine and [a bolt] just came loose from the wall, then we got the [remaining] kids off that row. We had some other kids pick [the loose bench seat] up and set it back so there wasn’t a gap between there and the wall.”

Jenkins explained the cause of the accident as being, “The weight of it, and they jump up and down, they stand on them. It’s inevitable. They’re just not made to do that. They’re made to sit on, not jump up and down on.”


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