School leaders abruptly end news conference on landslide - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

School leaders abruptly end news conference on landslide

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  • Lilydale landslide: What happened?

    Lilydale landslide: What happened?

    Thursday, May 23 2013 10:19 PM EDT2013-05-24 02:19:55 GMT
    Photo courtesy of the St. Paul Fire DepartmentPhoto courtesy of the St. Paul Fire Department
    Nearly 50 fourth-grade students were searching for fossils in a popular St. Paul park on Wednesday when the unthinkable happened -- a landslide swept up four children who had no time to react or escape.
    Nearly 50 fourth-grade students were searching for fossils in a popular St. Paul park on Wednesday when the unthinkable happened -- a landslide swept up four children who had no time to react or escape.
  • SOIL SCIENCE: What causes landslides?

    SOIL SCIENCE: What causes landslides?

    Friday, May 24 2013 12:18 AM EDT2013-05-24 04:18:37 GMT
    As the investigation continues into the landslide at Lilydale Regional Park in St. Paul, many are wondering how often the ground just gives way in the city and FOX 9 News looked into soil science.
    As the investigation continues into the fatal field trip at Lilydale Regional Park in St. Paul, many are wondering how often the ground just gives way in the city and FOX 9 News looked into the science behind landslides.
ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (KMSP) -

A press conference outside Peter Hobart Elementary School held one day after a fatal field trip at Lilydale Regional Park was cut short after reporters asked whether a call about conditions was made.

On Thursday, the memorial on campus kept growing while neighbors, parents and students gathered with balloons, stuffed animals and flowers to remember the students who were killed and the two who are still recovering from the landslide at a popular fossil yard.

In the afternoon, Principal Shelley Nielsen held a press conference about the incident, but her answers to reporters were limited to say the least.

After making a statement about the two "outstanding" students who died while declining to name the victims, reporters stopped to ask whether administrators called the park to make sure conditions were safe for the trip.

"I don't have information on that at this time," Nielsen replied.

That was the last question taken as school officials quickly turned their backs and left the staging area.

Although tough, the questions about the district's authoritative foresight are important, especially since the region had just seen six days of rain.

Two fourth-grade students, 9-year-old Haysem Sani and 10-year-old Mohamed Fofana, were killed after the hill above the fossil wall collapsed on top of them.

"They were outstanding students -- love of life, loved learning, very engaged families," Nielsen said.

City officials say the fossil yard is a popular destination for school trips, with the city issuing more than 400 permits a year so that student groups can explore the 384-acre park.

A copy of the permit contract obtained by FOX 9 News shows the school could have requested a rain date as long as the permit office was notified prior to the end of the reservation time.

The permit also exempts the City of St. Paul from any and all claims that may arise while a park user is on the property, reading in part, "the park user fully acknowledges that some of the conditions and locations within the Lilydale Regional Park area are hazardous to persons or property and park user specifically assumes the liability of the City of St. Paul as such claims or injuries may arise to persons and property due to its unsafe conditions."

A memorial fund has also been established at Citizens Independent Bank in St. Louis Park, and a silent auction is being organized for June 1. Items to be sold can be dropped off between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Muddy Paws Cheesecake, located at 7600 West 27th Street in St. Louis Park.

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