Carbon Monoxide School Poisoning in Bourbonnais Noel LeVasseur Elementary School

School Poisoning in Bourbonnais Blamed on Carbon Monoxide

By Attorney Gordon Johnson

Carbon Monoxide strikes another school again in Illinois, this time it is a in school poisoning in Bourbonnais. Around 30 students and three adults were taken to hospitals on March 16, 2017 after a carbon monoxide exposure at Noel LeVasseur Elementary School in Bourbonnais. The school poisoning in Bourbonnais is at least the fourth such poisoning in Illinois in the last few years.

We represent in excess of 35 people in the litigation around two of these poisonings, the first at the North Mac Middle School in Girard and the second, the Prussing Elementary School in Chicago. The third school poisoning was another Chicago school, the Horace Mann Middle School, where the carbon monoxide alarms warned of the danger and resulted in an earlier evacuation. See 

school poisoning in Bourbonnais, carbon monoxide keeps happening.

The school poisoning in Bourbonnais is the fourth Illinois school struck by carbon monoxide in recent years. Shown here is the Prussing Elementary School in Chicago, hit by carbon monoxide in 2015.

The first question we are asking tonight after the School Poisoning in Bourbonnais is what about the carbon monoxide alarms. After the North Mac Middle School carbon monoxide poisoning, Illinois passed a law requiring all schools to have carbon monoxide alarms. Did those alarms go off at the Noel LeVasseur Elementary School? If not, why didn’t they?

The strangest fact in this story is that the fire department didn’t find carbon monoxide after the evacuation. Yet, not only were the initial group of people found to have carbon monoxide exposure, but a second round of children and adults subsequently got sick. Many times carbon monoxide exposure cases are brought successfully without day of incident carbon monoxide because the poisoning is discovered after the fact. But here, it is a major ongoing question as to why the fire department didn’t find the poisoning after the evacuation. We will be watching carefully the followup investigation for more details.

As I said in my testimony in front of the U.S. Consumer Products safety commission last week, the human body is a carbon monoxide detector. Illness is often the first warning that the poison is afoot. Too often, it is only when multiple people get the same symptoms contemporaneously, is the connection made that carbon monoxide is the culprit. Here, the human detectors alarmed of the presence of the carbon monoxide poison. That is the strongest piece of evidence we have so far, and it is incontrovertible proof.

1 reply
  1. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    We’re locals (my son attends LeVasseur) and the story we got was the exhaust was blown by the wind “just right” into the intake vent.


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