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California high school student killed in model rocket explosion

Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times 6/04/2016 By Brittny Mejia and Matt Hamilton

Terri Gaspar places flowers at Madrona Elementary School on April 5, 2016 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where one teen was killed and another injured when their model rocket exploded Monday evening. © Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS Terri Gaspar places flowers at Madrona Elementary School on April 5, 2016 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where one teen was killed and another injured when their model rocket exploded Monday evening. LOS ANGELES — An explosion that killed a Thousand Oaks High School student Monday evening and sent another student to the hospital was apparently caused by a "homemade model rocket," school officials said Tuesday.

Bernard Moon, 18, of Thousand Oaks suffered critical injuries and later died at Los Robles Hospital following the explosion, according to the Ventura County medical examiner's office.

The second student, who has only been identified as a 17-year-old, remains hospitalized in stable condition, according to authorities.

News of Moon's death sparked an outpouring of grief among his classmates and their parents. School officials have summoned counselors to help distraught students.

"Brilliant boys. Good boys ... this was just a horrible science project accident gone wrong," Tammy Coburn, a parent who was at the school after the incident, told KTLA-TV.

Moon, a chemistry buff who had placed second in the Ventura County Science Fair last year, was handling a small propane cylinder at the time of the accident, according to Ventura County Fire officials.

The blast occurred just after 7:30 p.m. at Madrona Elementary School. The two students were in an open courtyard-type area, said Capt. Garo Kuredjian of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.

Madrona Elementary School was closed Tuesday, the Conejo Valley Unified School District confirmed.

Sheriff's investigators say they are still piecing together exactly what happened.

"Our bomb squad is trying to figure out what the device was," Kuredjian said, noting that it did not appear to be store-bought.

"It appears at this point to be some sort of a tragic accident that occurred," Kuredjian said.

Students and some parents took to social media after the incident, sending thoughts and prayers to the Moon family and sharing memories about the teenager.

One user tweeted about playing tennis with Moon, while another mentioned that he was her daughter's AP physics classmate and that both had interviewed at Brown University.

"Silence has struck our campus," one user tweeted.

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