EDMONTON – It’s been nearly 15 years since a deadly tragedy unfolded in the halls of an Edmonton junior high school.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 14-year-old Jason Hubben kicked a door and bled to death after wired glass severed the artery behind his knee.
Despite the incident and other injuries involving wired glass, the so-called safety glass is still used in many Edmonton schools.
“We believe it to be a tragic, isolated accident,” Lori Nagy, spokesperson for Edmonton Catholic Schools, says.
Wired glass is still used in 50 of the 90 Edmonton Catholic schools.
The glass is designed to protect against fire but the wire prevents the glass from breaking away.
“Wired glass is half the strength of the regular glass that you start with. So by putting that in there, even though it looks all strong and great, you’re reducing the strength of that glass by a factor of two,” engineering professor Doug Perovic says.
An investigation by Global’s 16×9 revealed horrific injuries caused by wired glass are far from isolated.
Despite the glass’ demonstrated vulnerability, Alberta’s building codes still allow for it to be used.
The Edmonton Catholic School Board says it has been replacing wired glass in about one school per year since Hubben’s death. It says the cost to replace all the wired glass at once was estimated at about $1 million.
“It’s not like every day we are putting children in jeopardy,” Nagy says. “Safety is always our top priority and we believe that children are very safe in our schools.”
Edmonton Public Schools says it has phased wired glass out of most of its 202 schools but couldn’t say how many.The board says schools that still use the glass will have it reviewed.
“Student safety doesn’t have a cost associated with it in the opinion of the district,” Chris Wright, Edmonton Public Schools’ managing director of infrastructure, says. “If there was a component there we needed to address, that would absolutely be addressed.”
“It’s just a matter of time before children being children will impact the glass and be severely injured, like they already have been,” injury lawyer Michael Smitiuch says.
St. Kevin Junior High School, where Hubben cut himself on the wired glass in 2001, presents the Jason Hubben Sportsmanship Award to both a male and female Grade 9 student every year. The winners must have demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship in athletics and be a positive influence in promoting sports in the school.
With files from Kendra Slugoski and Annie Burns-Pieper, Global News.