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College celebration gets out of hand at Iowa State

A rowdy crowd gathers in the streets near the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, early April 9, 2014. KCCI-TV

AMES, Iowa -- A student at Iowa State University has been seriously injured after a rowdy crowd overturned cars and toppled light poles near the campus amid an annual university celebration, authorities said Wednesday.

Ames Police Cmdr. Geoff Huff wrote on the agency's Facebook page that the crowd began massing late Tuesday night in the so-called Campustown area in Ames and began pelting officers with rocks and beer cans when they showed up. He said people in the crowd overturned at least two cars and knocked down two light poles, and one falling pole apparently struck the person who was badly injured.

The crowd dispersed early Wednesday, police said.

The university's president, Steven Leath, issued a statement early Wednesday lamenting the disturbances and saying an Iowa State student had been seriously injured. He did not further identify the student or details of the injuries. Police said the injured person had been taken first to a local medical center and then airlifted to a Des Moines hospital.

"I was immediately made aware of the situation that began ... shortly before midnight and have continued to receive information over the past few hours from police," Leath said in the brief statement posted before dawn on the university's website. "We are all distraught and disappointed over the events that have unfolded near campus overnight."

He said his university cabinet would gather later Wednesday and evaluate options for the remainder of the week's activities for the annual Veishea celebration intended to showcase the university, its students and alumni.

A police dispatcher, contacted by The Associated Press, said she had no information to release early Wednesday beyond the statement released by police. Authorities said they were seeking any tips from the public in helping to identify those responsible for incidents.

The Des Moines Register was among those first reporting on the disturbances and said a moving crowd blocked streets for more than an hour and that police and firefighters had to press through the throng to reach the injured person. The report said the Veisheia celebration, which dates back decades, has been marred at times in the past by problems and violent acts.

Iowa State University said on its website that the campus in the U.S. Midwest has drawn more than 33,200 students from across the nation and from more than 100 countries, along with more than 6,300 faculty and staff.

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