Dust devil tosses students in Makaha - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Elementary students suffer cuts and bruises after being tossed by dust devil

Lynn Okamura Lynn Okamura
Selena Kalawao Selena Kalawao
Lucky Chong Lucky Chong

MAKAHA (HawaiiNewsNow) - People at Makaha Elementary say they've never seen anything like it. A pair of dust devils combined to form one powerful force capable of lifting fourth graders off the ground.

Witnesses say it was a calm, clear day when out of nowhere they were swept up by a fast moving dust devil.

"I guess how they text ‘OMG'. This cannot be happening! Because we've had dirt devils before, never that big" said school principal Lynn Okamura.

"At first I thought it was funny, but then it started getting serious because some kids went home because they got hurt" said sixth-grader Selena Kalawao.

25 fourth graders were outside for PE.14 of them were lifted two to three feet in the air and slammed into the surrounding fence. Others were hit by flying objects.

"Several kids got hit in the head by the tennis rackets, because they were practicing tennis. So the rackets were flying around this way, and you cannot dodge what you cannot see, so lot of kids got hit in the head" said Okamura.

"They were covered in dirt. It was like they were playing in dirt, in dust and all that. Everything was coming out through their nose, ears, everything" said custodian Lucky Chong.

Paramedics treated some kids for cuts and minor head injuries. None of them were taken to the hospital, but some did go home with their parents. The principal says it could have been worse because in another 10 minutes it would have been recess and there would have been 300 kids outside instead.

"I count my blessings, we were super lucky that it didn't happen at recess" said Okamura.

And while it was supposed to be a tennis lesson, they instead learned what to do when Mother Nature serves up the unexpected.

"I think that... cause the tornado was going this way, instead of like running that way because it's coming after you, you should run different ways" said Kalawao.

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