Hersheypark guests exposed to tear gas from nearby State Police training exercise

HERSHEY — A portion of Hersheypark was closed down Wednesday night after guests were exposed to tear gas from a training exercise held at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, park officials said Thursday.

The Midway America portion of the park was closed after guests complained of sore throats and coughing related to an irritant in the air, park officials said. The irritant was later identified as tear gas, according to park officials.

Hersheypark says it contacted State Police, who stopped the use of tear gas during the drill after being made aware of the issue.

State Police have conducted outdoor drills using tear gas in the past without any issue, according to Hersheypark officials.

It is unclear why Wednesday’s training exercise led to exposure for some park guests, Hersheypark officials said.

“We have discussed enhanced communication with PA State Police for all future outdoor live drills of this type,” the statement from park officials said. “State Police (have) assured us there are no long-term adverse effects from exposure of this type.”

State Police communications director Ryan Tarkowski issued a statement:

“The Pennsylvania State Police regularly trains with tear gas at our Academy in Hershey. Prior to deploying tear gas, Academy staff assesses wind direction and other environmental conditions to prevent impact on our neighbors. Unfortunately, the wind shifted during last night’s exercise and some guests at Hersheypark reported discomfort. The incident is under review, and the Department apologizes to Hersheypark management and their guests for any inconvenience.”

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