Late-night toilet-papering incident gone awry leaves student hospitalized, school officials cautioning families
A homecoming prank gone awry left a Grafton High School student hospitalized with a serious head injury early this week.
Grafton police said they discovered a 16-year-old boy lying semiconscious in a wooded area west of Aurora Medical Center at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday after his family reported him missing.
The teen, police said, had been with a group of students who spread toilet paper on nearby Grafton High School property as a homecoming trick several hours earlier.
The boy was with students who parked their vehicles in the hospital parking lot and apparently fell down an embankment and struck his head, Police Capt. Joseph Gabrish said.
Students were seen running through the area when police arrived at 11:50 p.m. in response to a call from hospital security about suspicious activity in and near the lot, which is near Cheyenne Avenue.
The boy was found with a laceration on his head.
“He was lethargic. It is believed that he struck his head on a rock or boulder,” Gabrish said of the boy.
Police immediately called for an ambulance, which transported the student to Aurora Medical Center. He was then taken by Flight for Life to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.
Police searched for the boy in areas where the students had been seen earlier.
“He was out there for several hours. It was a good thing we found him when we did, or else it could have been a lot worse,” Gabrish said.
Gabrish said police did not pursue the students but were able to identify many of them by tracing license plates on vehicles in the parking lot. He said five or six students were issued citations for curfew violations and trespassing.
Grafton Supt. Mel Lightner said he visited the injured teen at Children’s Hospital on Tuesday morning, when the boy remained under sedation. At that time, doctors had yet to determine the extent of his injury, Lightner added.
“We’re very optimistic that the young man will be all right given the nature of his injury,” Lightner said. “He has our thoughts and prayers for a full recovery.”
Lightner praised police for their quick response once the teen was reported missing.
“We’re very thankful to the Grafton Police Department. They didn’t pursue the students, but some of them chose to flee anyway, which is never a good idea,” he said.
In response to the incident, Grafton High School Principal Ken McCormick sent families two e-mails Tuesday, first describing what happened and then asking parents to assist by “encouraging positive participation in homecoming” and by “discouraging participation in activities that give our students and school a bad reputation.”
“Please help explain the serious, and possibly unintended consequences, that can come when students decide to participate in unsupervised activities like toilet papering,” he wrote.
“Let’s work together to make the rest of this week a celebration of what is great about our school and community.”
Lightner said the toilet-papering activities may have started out as an innocent prank but became a dangerous accident that could have been avoided.
“We want our students to have fun and enjoy themselves but not like this,” he said. “There is a lesson to be learned from this. We want our students to think before they act.”
Lightner said students ticketed by police for the incident will be disciplined for violating the school handbook, including possible suspensions from co-curricular activities. The students were also required to clean up the toilet paper strewn across school property, he said.
Lightner said this week’s homecoming activities will continue as scheduled.