44 treated for possible exposure

June 21, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

WESTMORLAND — About 44 people were taken to Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley for possible exposure to pesticides that spilled when a crop dusting plane crashed east of here Thursday morning.

The pilot, Gregory B. Bewick of Morro Bay, was killed in the crash that occurred about 12:40 a.m. in an area near Boarts and Kalin roads.

About 40 gallons of a pesticide pre-mixed with three other chemicals spilled from the plane. Imperial County Fire Department officials did not have specific information on the chemicals.


Of those taken to Pioneers, 19 were from the Imperial Irrigation District, 10 were firefighters and 14 were employees from another business. Pioneer's spokesman Clyde Carson said all of the people came to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

The worst case involved an IID employee who was treated for shortness of breath as a result of a pre-existing medical condition. Carson said the employee was treated and released as were the rest of the patients.

All of them were given special showers for hazardous materials and fluids, then were sent home after a doctor gave them a check up. Some of the patients had already showered at home before going to the hospital.

Carson said the patients started coming in at 10 a.m. and the continued to file into the hospital throughout the day, causing the hospital to activate its emergency incident command system.

He said the command system calls for all available hospital staffers to report to a pre-designated command center.

Carson added the hospital activates the system when it has a large number of patients from one incident.

Thursday's plane crash occurred when the crop duster Bewick was flying clipped utility wires, knocking a light pole down along with several wires.

Several communities lost power for a short time following the crash.

Imperial County Fire Capt. Joe Seaman said the Imperial County Hazardous Material Team was activated at 10 a.m. Thursday for a couple of hours.

County firefighters remained at the scene until clean up crews from Val-Air Co. Inc. arrived to clean the spill. It wasn't known if the spill had been completely cleaned up this morning.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles