Oregon lawmaker leading crusade against wired glass

You've undoubtedly seen it before, glass that appears to have chicken wire imbedded in it. It's called safety glass but critics say it's anything but safe.

As KATU News learned, one Oregon lawmaker is leading the charge to get the glass removed from public buildings.

One such injury was caught on video in Salt Lake City Utah in 2001. The tape shows a high school basketball player running down court at full speed, and when he can't stop, he crashes through a large pane of wired glass.

As that boy, and hundreds of other people in the country have learned, the wire imbedded in the glass shreds human flesh more efficiently than the glass itself does.

The average cost to treat such injuries: $30,000.

Jarred Abel, who was injured when he put his arm through a pane of wired glass two years ago at the University of Oregon said the cost can't be measured in dollars alone.

"There was blood running down my arm, all over my shoes," said Abel. "I could see the look on their face of just disgust."

In addition to the scars, Jarred has permanent damage to the nerves and tendons in his arm. Now Jarred and his father Greg Abel are on a quest to get to the bottom of why wired glass remains in all kinds of public buildings, from schools and gyms to the very hearing room where they testified earlier this year.

The Abels have taken their case to Senator Vicki Walker of Eugene who is now trying to get wired glass pulled from schools and other buildings.

"Once you know what it is, you will see it everywhere," said Sen. Walker. "And it is horrific the injuries it inflicts upon people."

No one disputes the fact that wired glass inflicts wicked injuries, including complete amputation. Some victims require tens of thousands of dollars in reconstructive surgery.

Those who make wired glass say alternatives, including retrofits are costly and may not be as safe to those fighting fires in those buildings.

"To my knowledge no testing has been done yet," said Thomas Zaremba. "There are some very serious questions which no one has answers to, such that a recommendation can be made.

Industry representatives declined KATU's offer for an interview. Wired glass legislation is moving slowly through the process because it may cost some money.

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