LAKELAND, Fla. (USA TODAY) — A 14-year-old has been arrested, accused of trying to poison his teacher with hand sanitizer.
The incident occurred Tuesday, after teacher Ana Morejon of Crystal Lake Middle School in this city of about 100,000 halfway between Tampa and Orlando had stepped outside her classroom to discuss something with her school's dean of students. While she was in the hallway, her students left their seats to line up for lunch, Polk County deputies said.
When Morejon returned, she took a sip from a cup of water that sits on her desk. She noticed the water tasted funny but took another sip.
She then took the lid off the cup, smelled the water and detected the odor of hand sanitizer, which also sits on her desk. She developed a headache and a stomach ache, so on the advice of her doctor she went to Bartow Regional Medical Center about 10 miles away to be evaluated.
Deputies were called and during their investigation, two students said the teenage boy intentionally squirted hand sanitizer into his teacher's cup. Deputies arrested him Wednesday and transported him to Polk Juvenile Assessment Center in Bartow, Fla.
The teen, who is not being identified because of his age, was charged with one count of poisoning food or water, a felony.
He's not the first Florida teen to be arrested after being accused of such behavior. In March, a 15-year-old at South Walton High School in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., was charged with felony poisoning for putting liquid hand sanitizer in his teacher's soda can, supposedly as a joke. That teacher, too, went to the hospital because she became ill.
The 15-year-old was expelled for the remainder of this school year and the next, about 15 months, and won't be eligible to return the high school until fall 2015, a Walton County School District
spokeswoman said Thursday. In the meantime, he is eligible to go to a special disciplinary charter school or his parents can elect to educate him at home.
His criminal case was settled in juvenile court and the outcome is not public.
The sanitizers can be as much as two-thirds ethyl alcohol — the type of alcohol found in beer, wine and liquor — and isopropyl alcohol, better known as rubbing alcohol, which is toxic. Ingestion can cause stomach upset and nausea, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Household Products Database. People who swallow the product are advised not to induce vomiting and to call their doctor or a poison control center.
Hand sanitizers also can contain other chemicals to kill germs including triclosan, an ingredient that Minnesota banned last week, effective Jan. 1, 2017.
Contributing: Linda Dono, USA TODAY