LIer injured after explosion at Nyack College

A close-up look at damage to a building

A close-up look at damage to a building at Nyack College where a natural gas explosion occurred. (June 4, 2013) (Credit: Sarah Armaghan)

A Long Island student was injured Tuesday when she jumped from a second-floor office at Nyack College after an apparent natural gas explosion rocked the building, authorities said.

The blast hit the Rockland County college's Sky Island Lodge, which houses classrooms and offices, shortly before noon Tuesday, injuring two students, five staff members and a police officer, officials said.

The Long Islander, identified only as a 38-year-old woman from Valley Stream, suffered a compound fracture and was transferred from Nyack Hospital to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, said Ray Florida, executive director of Rockland Paramedics Service.

The explosion destroyed a first-floor area and blew out windows and a door in the Tudor-style building. Authorities said none of the injuries was life-threatening.

Investigators could not immediately determine the cause of the explosion. Afterward, natural gas rose to "explosive" levels in manholes at the college, according to Mike Donohue of Orange & Rockland Utilities.

People in the building had reported smelling gas and college grounds workers were investigating at the time of the blast, the Rockland sheriff's office said.

On Tuesday night, all but the Valley Stream woman had been released from hospitals, said David Jennings, the college's executive vice president. He said the student was working with the School of Business and Leadership dean on her master's thesis.

The dean and an assistant were with her in the office, and they all tried to get out after the explosion, but the door wouldn't budge, Jennings said.

Maintenance workers, a nearby off-duty officer and others raced to the building and searched for a ladder when they found out people were trapped in the dean's office, he said.

The student didn't wait. "Obviously, it was a traumatic experience, and she jumped out the window," Jennings said, falling at least 10 feet onto concrete.

Jennings said the woman's husband and a relative traveled from Long Island to be with her.

"She's in our prayers," he said. "We're just grateful no one was fatally injured. It could have been a lot worse."

With Sarah Armaghan

and The Associated Press

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