Winona High School Student Says Teacher Approved Cannon Project - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/18/06-Winona

Winona High School Student Says Teacher Approved Cannon Project

More confirmation in the case of an explosion on an East Texas school campus. A friend of 17-year-old Jonathon Strength says a physics teacher approved his project to make a homemade cannon. Jonathon was working on the cannon yesterday when it exploded, severely injuring his hand. The school district would not tell us much about Jonathon's condition, but the ATF says he did undergo surgery, and is expected to leave the hospital in a few days.

Austin, 17 helped work on Jonathon Strength's homemade cannon. He says the project started in January.

"At the beginning of the semester we were faced with a project, water rocket anything like that, and he (Jonathon) said well what if we made a cannon and Mr. Brown said ok just we're going to make it safe and secure as possible," said Austin, Jonathon's friend. Bradley Brown has been with the district for just a year. Austin says Brown told them the risks involved with the project, and the explosion was a complete accident.

"We had talked about the possibility of it happening like that, but when we were doing our tests we would always be at a safe distance," said Austin. "Everything was controlled." The school district would not give many details about what happened yesterday because it says it's an ongoing investigation.

"Something like this cannot be rushed because we want to be very thorough in what we do in any information that we give," said Superintendent Rodney Faussatt. Amanda Metcalf has three elementary school children. She says as a parent she wants answers.

"It should have been prevented, and I think that's where the administration failed that child and failed this district because every teacher has to submit lesson plans to be approved," said Metcalf. "Somebody approved that lesson plan." It's one of several questions, the community waits for the school district to answer.

The school district says it hopes to be able to answer the communities questions tomorrow. The ATF told us it sent the materials it gathered yesterday to its forensic lab and hope to know what caused the cannon to explode within the month.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com

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