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Boy's face burned after school science experiment goes wrong

Posted at 11:35 PM, Jun 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 09:10:24-04

ENCINITAS, Calif. (KGTV) - A 13-year-old boy suffered burns to his face after a science experiment at Capri Elementary School in Encinitas went awry.

Priest Rivera, a 6th-grade student, said a teacher was attempting to show a group of students an experiment known as the “black snake” or “carbon snake” when it exploded in his face.

The experiment involves mixing sugar and baking soda with a flammable liquid and lighting it on fire to create a snake-like reaction.

Rivera said the teacher told them to stand in a semi-circle around her on the field as she lit the experiment on fire.

“The teacher kept on pouring more rubbing alcohol onto the flame itself because the flame wasn’t building up,” said Rivera.

That’s about all he remembers before waking up in an ambulance with a sharp pain all over his face.

“My face was constantly burning and burning,” he said. “I still feel it right now.”

He spent six days in the hospital and underwent four surgeries, according to his mom Gina Rivera.

“It was just hell,” she said about the experience. “He kept saying, ‘mom am I going to go blind?’”

Priest kept his eyesight but two weeks after the accident, still had bandages around his face to protect the burn areas.

Gina said it’s still unclear how bad the injuries will end up being though she said the effects will be long-lasting.

“It has halted his life. It’s changed his life,” she said.

The outgoing superintendent of the Encinitas Union School District, Timothy Baird, told 10News they could not comment on any specifics because the incident involved a student. Though, he did say the district is investigating what happened.

The Rivera family has hired a lawyer and plans to sue the district.