A thermite explosion just after midnight on June 2 at the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house on Sixth St. sent two Tech students to the hospital. Third-year AE Tommy Keen and third-year MSE Paul Grzybowski received burns on 30 percent and 20 percent of their upper bodies, respectively. Both students were admitted to the hospital in stable condition, received surgery and are expected to make a full recovery.
While the exact chemicals that caused the explosion are unknown, a person familiar with Grzybowski told the officer at the scene that the student mixed the chemicals together in a two-liter soda bottle that had been cut in half. Keen them lit the chemicals, which caused the ensuing explosion. Bystanders noticed and called 911.
Once the police were on scene it was determined that there were more chemicals inside the house that were used to cause the explosion. The fraternity house was then evacuated, and a hazardous materials team was called in to remove the remaining substances from the site.
The person familiar with the situation also stated that Grzybowski had a similar incident in the past when he would try to mix chemicals for pyrotechnics.
The incident was strictly recreational and was not a part of fraternity related activity nor an assignment for any class.
The incident is still under investigation, but a source familiar with the situation says the incident is being treated as an accident.
The brotherhood of Zeta Beta Tau released an official statement saying, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tommy, Paul, and their families as they overcome this unfortunate accident.”
“We are impressed by the level of care they received and the progress they have already made in such short time, thanks to the expertise of the doctors and nurses at Grady Memorial Hospital’s Burn Unit. Both men are expected to make a full recovery with time. The brothers of ZBT, along with Tommy and Paul’s families, wish to thank Dean Stein and the rest of the Georgia Tech community for the unabated support, prayers and resources they have provided,” the statement said.
Both students are expected to be out of the hospital by next week.