A Southwest Junior High School student was unconscious for a short time Friday morning after falling near the Clinton Lake dam, school and fire officials said.
The student was alert and conscious once firefighters rescued her, but she was taken to a Kansas City-area hospital via helicopter ambulance as a precaution, said Division Chief Joe Hoelscher of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.
Julie Boyle, a Lawrence public schools spokeswoman, said the seventh-grade female student fell while on a walking field trip in southwestern Lawrence. School and Douglas County Sheriff’s officials said the girl tumbled down in a hilly area that faces south near the intersection of a bike path and East 900 Road.
Boyle said the students were taken by bus to the Youth Sports Complex southwest of Wakarusa Drive and the South Lawrence Trafficway. The students then walked along the bike path west toward the dam to search for rocks and fossils. She said that before the girl fell, several students and teachers were walking down that portion of the hill.
Douglas County Undersheriff Steve Hornberger said the girl apparently tumbled an undetermined distance in the area near the spillway after she lost her footing.
The girl was flown via a LifeStar helicopter ambulance to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., for treatment of her injuries, and her parents accompanied her, Boyle said. She was released from the hospital Friday night.
“I was told she was alert and conscious at the scene,” Hornberger said.
Hoelscher said a fire crew performed a “low-angle rescue” during which they tied a rope to a tree and pulled themselves down to the student to get her into the ambulance.
He said the girl fell from a “steep slope” in the area that had been carved out for the spillway near the dam. Hoelscher said the hill has points that drop off from five feet to 15 feet, but crews were not sure how far the girl fell.
“District administrators are at Southwest Junior High and (the fields) assisting school staff in supporting students,” Boyle said Friday afternoon. “Of course, our thoughts and concerns are with the injured student and her family. Southwest Junior High plans to continue its regular school day.”
The school district also sent out an automated call about the incident to Southwest parents Friday.