Damage to Arrowhead Elementary is investigated

2010-09-20T23:28:00Z 2010-10-19T17:54:30Z Damage to Arrowhead Elementary is investigatedROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
September 20, 2010 11:28 pm  • 

Billings police are still investigating an early Saturday morning car wreck that left a barn door-sized hole in Arrowhead Elementary and ruptured the water main there.

Crews with Billings School District 2 have been working on cleaning up and repairing the school since early Saturday, and officials won’t know until later this week how much the damage will cost to repair.

The Arrowhead wreck was the second in 14 months there.

At about 3 a.m. Saturday, a white 1993 Chevy Corsica ran off Poly Drive where the road ends at 38th Street West and down an embankment. The vehicle smashed into the school and hit a water main, soaking a hallway, a number of classrooms, a section of the library and the gymnasium, and the cafeteria.

The driver fled from the scene, leaving behind the Corsica.

“It wasn’t reported as stolen,” said Billings Police Department Sgt. Kevin Iffland.

He said that the investigation was continuing and that officers were following up with the car’s owner.

In the previous incident, on July 21, 2009, a car hit the brick wall at just about the same time and in the same place as Saturday’s accident. That wreck did about $200,000 in damage to the school, the majority of which was paid for by the school’s insurance, said SD2 Superintendent Keith Beeman.

“The damage is less this time,” he said.

So, he expects the bill will be less, too.

Looking forward, Beeman said starting a dialogue with the city to find out how to better protect the school from this type of accident is a possibility.

“Is there something we can do together? The answer may be ‘yes,’ it may be ‘no,’ ” he said.

He was quick to point out that Arrowhead has been at the end of Poly Drive for more than 32 years and that, for 31 years, no vehicles had struck the school.

Now, he said, “lightning has struck twice.” The district will need to address the issue, he added.

Another possibility may be some kind of attractive barrier closer to the school and away from the road that, perhaps, could be decorated or designed by students, Beeman said.

In the meantime, school at Arrowhead will resume Wednesday morning.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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