It is a popular and simple elementary school science project. Students come up with a way to encase a raw egg so that it can be dropped from a certain height without breaking. At Hiawatha Elementary School located within the Othello School District in Othello, Washington, the egg drop demonstration is an annual event. This year, however, what was supposed to be a fun and educational experience took a tragic turn.

The eggs were to be lifted 20 to 30 feet in the air and dropped from the bucket of a utility truck. Bob Smith, 50, an employee with Avista Utilities accompanied teacher Melissa Martinez into the bucket to execute the drops. About 600 children ranging in grades kindergarten through sixth grade watched from the ground at a distance along with other staff members and some parents.

When they had reached 20 to 30 feet, the boom separated from its base and fell. The two were thrown from the bucket when it hit the ground outside of the elementary school. Smith was killed after suffering head injuries from the fall. Martinez was hospitalized for non-life threatening injuries and is doing well. A spokeswoman for Avista Utilities said that they will be investigating the cause of the accident along with the state Department of Labor and Industries. This accident may bring up questions as to what kinds of activities are safe to perform with children around, and if the activity being performed is worth the risk.


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