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Box Explodes in UC Berkeley Lab, Shattering Graduate Student's Arm

May 16, 1985|GEORGE RAMOS and MARK A. STEIN | Times Staff Writers

BERKELEY — A small, white plastic box exploded Wednesday in a computer lab at the University of California, Berkeley, shattering the right hand and arm of a 26-year-old Air Force captain who apparently had tried to open it.

The injured man was identified as John Hauser of the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colo., a graduate student taking special training at UC Berkeley. He underwent six hours of surgery at nearby Herrick Hospital. Doctors said later that Hauser will never regain full use of his right hand and arm and may lose sight in his left eye. Hauser is a pilot, a university spokesman said.

The blast destroyed the small lab in Cory Hall in the northeast corner of the sprawling Berkeley campus. There was no fire.

University spokesman Ray Colvig said that there is no evidence to link the bombing to a two-day meeting of the UC Board of Regents, scheduled to start Thursday in another building about half a mile from Cory Hall. The regents are expected to discuss university investments in firms that do business in South Africa, the subject of a generally peaceful 35-day demonstration by students here.

'Know of No Connection'

"We know of no connection between what went on in that building and what's going on anywhere else on campus," Colvig said. He added that there is no apparent connection between the lab bomb and a dissimilar pipe bomb that was found and disarmed Monday at San Francisco State University.

Andy Packer, 24, a mechanical engineering graduate student and a friend of Hauser, said he was in an adjoining room when he heard the explosion at 1:45 p.m. "I raced into the hall," Packer said. "There was a lot of smoke. He (Hauser) was screaming, and his arm was totally wrecked."

Three professors administered first aid until Berkeley Fire Department paramedics arrived. One of the professors, Diogenes J. Anelakos, suffered similar injuries in the last campus bombing, which occurred in the same building in July, 1982. That case has not been solved.

Took Work Break

University spokesman Tom Debley said that Wednesday's explosion occurred when Hauser took a break from his work and reached over to touch the box, which Packer said no one had noticed until then.

Cory Hall is a four-story concrete structure that is home to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Colvig said that he is not aware of any connection between research done in the building and either the U.S. military or the South African government, two frequent targets of Berkeley radicals.

University spokesmen were uncertain how the explosion might affect security for the regents' meeting. Before the incident, 86 campus police officers from four University of California campuses had been recruited for the job, with assistance available from the Berkeley and Oakland police departments.

In addition, UC Police Lt. William Foley said, demonstrators outside the meeting will be kept under surveillance from a helicopter.

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