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Roof Collapse At James Rickards Middle School In Oakland Park Forces School To Evacuate

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - Debris rained down when the roof over the media center at James S. Rickards Middle School collapsed Friday morning.

Melvin McGauley was in an adjacent classroom.

"It was a loud boom and all the lights went out. My teacher said go and we all ran," he said.

The school's principal also heard the 'boom' and immediately evacuated the school. Due to the pandemic, there were under 200 students and 55 faculty members in the building.

School Roof Collapse
Partial roof collapse at James S. Rickards Middle School in Oakland Park. (CBS4)

Oakland Park Fire Rescue said the joists collapsed and there was a major water leak. They used a drone and K9 units to make sure no one was trapped in the debris.

According to the school district, the media center was under construction at the time of the collapse and no one was in the room.

Fire rescue said while no one was hit by flying debris, seven students and five staff members complained of headaches and nausea from stress and dehydration. Five were taken to the hospital for observation, according to Oakland Park Fire Rescue.

Sixth-grader Carter Jamieo said he was hurt running from the school.

"It was traumatic, I never expected the roof would come down," he said.

The rest of the students and staff were evacuated to Northeast High School, where parents were able to pick them up.

Investigators are now working to determine the extent of the damage and the cause of the collapse.

Rickards is in the middle of a multi-million dollar renovation.

The district has long been criticized for a mismanaged building department, although Broward schools chief Robert Runcie says, "that's in the past."

The question is who pays for this monumental cleanup and rebuilding and the costs for what's been bought and destroyed.

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