Authorities identify Thousand Oaks student killed in homemade rocket blast

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An explosion that killed a Thousand Oaks High School student Monday evening and sent another student to the hospital was apparently caused by a “homemade model rocket,” attached to a skateboard, authorities said Tuesday.

Bernard Moon, 18, of Thousand Oaks suffered critical injuries and later died at Los Robles Hospital following the explosion, according to the Ventura County medical examiner’s office.

The second student, who has only been identified as a 17-year-old, remains hospitalized, according to authorities.


News of Moon’s death sparked an outpouring of grief among his classmates and their parents. School officials have summoned counselors to help distraught students.

“Brilliant boys. Good boys ... this was just a horrible science project accident gone wrong,” Tammy Coburn, a parent who was at the school following the incident, told KTLA-5.

Moon, a chemistry buff who had placed second in the Ventura County Science Fair last year, was handling a small propane cylinder at the time of the accident, according to Ventura County Fire officials.

The blast occurred just after 7:30 p.m. at Madrona Elementary School in the 600 block of Camino Manzanas. The two students were in an open courtyard-type area, said Capt. Garo Kuredjian of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

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Madrona Elementary School was closed Tuesday, the Conejo Valley Unified School District confirmed.

Sheriff’s investigators say they are still piecing together exactly what happened.

Kuredjian said that it appeared that a “homemade model rocket device” had been attached to a skateboard.

“It was attached in a way so the skateboard could be propelled,” he said. “The rocket would be ignited and the skateboard would be propelled.”

Kuredjian said the department’s bomb squad had been called in to investigate.

“It appears at this point to be some sort of a tragic accident that occurred,” Kuredjian said.

Students and some parents took to social media after the incident, sending thoughts and prayers to the Moon family and sharing memories about the teenager.

Several acquaintances tweeted about playing tennis with Moon, while another mentioned that he was her daughter’s Advanced Placement physics classmate and that both had interviewed at Brown University.


“Bernard was one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet on or off the tennis court,” one wrote.

“Silence has struck our campus,” another tweeted.

Follow me on Twitter @brittny_mejia


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