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Alonzo Yanes and his parents sued his teacher and the Dept. of Education, and was award $60 million in July

By Ashley Boucher
September 13, 2019 12:22 AM
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Alonzo Yanes
Credit: Inside Edition

Nearly six years after a high school chemistry experiment went terribly wrong, one young man is opening up about an explosion that left him with burns on more than 30 percent of his body.

Alonzo Yanes recounted the horrifying experience to Inside Edition in an interview Thursday, saying that he was about two and a half feet from where his teacher was conducting the Rainbow Experiment, which is meant to show how igniting different types of salts produces colorful flames, at Beacon High School in Manhattan, New York, in January 2014.

“I remember feeling this immense heat completely come forward and wrap around my entire body,” Yanes recalled of the classroom disaster, which happened when he was in 10th grade.

When the teacher poured a flammable substance into a bowl of nitrate, the experiment went awry and caused an explosion, engulfing him in flames and landing him in the hospital for five months.

“I remember these flashes of blue and orange just flying toward my face. I remember feeling this burning sensation everywhere around my head,” Yanes said, explaining that he dropped to floor to try to put out the fire. “I was yelling out ‘help, help, somebody help me, please.'”

After several surgeries, Yanes is now doing much better, but told Inside Edition that after the accident, “I kinda looked like something out of a horror movie.”

Yanes and his parents sued his teacher and the New York City Department of Education, and he was awarded $60 million by a jury in July.

Before the jury’s decision, Yanes’ lawyer, Ben Rubinowitz, played a demonstration of the experiment in court and the scorching flames reached 10 feet.

Rubinowitz told Inside Edition that he hopes the lawsuit will bring more safety to classrooms — the outlet reported that Yanes’ chemistry classroom was not equipped with safety equipment like vests, fire blankets or a shower.

“If the teacher is going to undertake a demonstration like this, you have got to take precautions, you have got to take safety measures,” Rubinowitz said.