Hotel Pool Heaters Culprit in Marysville Hampton Inn

A pool heater once again found at fault in Marysville Hampton Inn (Ohio) carbon monoxide poisoning, one more in a long list of hotel poisonings. https://carbonmonoxide.com/2020/08/why-are-hotel-pool-heaters-so-dangerous-for-carbon-monoxide.html

Attorney Gordon Johnson

800-992-9447

This past Saturday a faulty hotel pool heater again made headlines when seven people were hospitalized in critical condition in Marysville Hampton Inn, (Ohio) due to carbon monoxide poisoning. https://www.nbc4i.com/news/local-news/marysville/cause-of-marysville-hotel-carbon-monoxide-leak-determined/

Marysville Hampton Inn

The Marysville Hampton Inn in Ohio became one more in a long list of hotels where guests have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, due to a malfunctioning pool heater.

On January 29, 2022 police responded to 911 calls at the Hampton Inn in Marysville, Ohio. The 78 room hotel in the Columbus suburbs offers many amenities including an indoor pool, spa tub and fitness center. On this evening, however, multiple reports came in of unconscious guests and a two-year-old was reported to be unconscious either in the pool area or the pool itself. People on the scene were complaining of dizziness and burning sensations in their throats.  Toxic levels of carbon monoxide were detected in the pool area and a total of 14 people were transported to local hospitals with a total of 16 ultimately receiving medical care. Two patients remained in critical condition while five others were listed as serious. The victims included children and adults. The hotel was evacuated and guests moved to nearby hotels.

The hotel’s website lists the hotel as temporarily closed at the time of this writing and the Columbus Dispatch states that a Hampton Inn maintenance team had been called in, in addition to a continuing investigation as to the cause of the incident.

Caution for Marysville Hampton Inn carbon monoxide survivors.

YOU WERE POISONED.

This may not be a transitory health crisis. Even though your oxygen levels may have returned to normal before being discharged from the hospital, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can continue to get worse over the next days and weeks.

The Emergency Room doctors and nurses who treated you are not likely to be experts on carbon monoxide poisoning. Further, as many as 40% of those who were poisoned may have permanent brain damage. Heart damage is also not uncommon.

Pool Heater Hazard Well Known

This just keeps happening. In 2013 three people lost their lives when an improperly installed and maintained hotel pool heater vented toxic levels of carbon monoxide into their hotel room. Initially two elderly guests on vacation were discovered deceased in their room and due to a perfect storm of events several others were sickened in an adjoining room several days later. Unbelievably, an 11-year-old guest was fatally poisoned weeks later when the room was reopened to the public. A trail of events led to discoveries about the improper installation, maintenance and the official and expert response to the initial tragedy. The list of players at fault in this complicated case was so extensive that the court had problems determining where to place the blame and ultimately the blame was assigned to the hotel management firm through a plea bargain.

At the time we covered the complicated story of the Boone Best Western tragedy which took three lives and said: https://carbonmonoxide.com/2020/09/boone-best-western-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-story-the-rest-of-the-story.html

“It is sincerely hoped that continued advocacy for hotel safety bring about sweeping changes in the hospitality industry to prevent future tragedies.”

Why did Marysville Hampton Inn Poisoning Happen?

Today I was asked by Jamie Ostroff, a reporter for NBC News in Columbus[1], why this keep happening with pool heaters. My theory is that the pool heaters get forgotten in terms of the routine maintenance of the other hotel HVAC equipment. Sometimes, they are in separate rooms. The maintenance staff may not have these heaters on their normal maintenance protocols and may rarely even go into these rooms. Too often, no money is allocated to replace such equipment until there is a failure. A badly functioning pool heater may continue to provide warm water in the pool, even if it isn’t as warm as it should be. Noticing such a problem is probably only done with the guest complain about a colder than expected pool.

In spite of the public scrutiny which follows carbon monoxide incidents in hotels across the country, we continue to see stories which indicate that not enough is being done to ensure the safety of hotel guests. The bottom line is that in any situation where there are fuel burning devices such as boilers and pool heaters, there is a risk for malfunction, often due to improper installation (including improper retrofitting), maintenance (often by unqualified individuals), overdue replacement, incomplete inspection, and ultimately, uninformed or negligent management.

In 2017 a similar incident occurred at a Quality Inn & Suites in Niles, Michigan. A 13-year-old boy was killed and several others, including seven additional children, were transported to the hospital for treatment for toxic carbon monoxide exposure. In total 10 children were impacted. In this instance, a malfunctioning pool heater was determined to be the cause. It was alleged that the hotel owner who had purchased the hotel the previous year had no real plan in place for investigating the equipment room which housed the hotel’s pool heater. As a result, the recommended inspections were not done and in fact, the owner was unaware of the manual or instructions which had accompanied the equipment and thus was unaware of the manufacturer’s recommendations. Tragically the inspection performed on the equipment involved photographing the equipment from the doorway and went no further, according to depositions in the year following the tragedy. https://www.abc57.com/news/hotel-owner-and-inspector-depositions-in-niles-co-poisoning-revealed Also at play in this incident was an inspector who was not specifically trained in this type of inspection which is often the case. There are significant differences between routine home furnace inspections and commercial inspections. We would like to think that it is implicit that the culpability when dealing with safety measures in the hospitality industry might reflect the number of people who might be impacted by an inadequate inspection.

While an ongoing investigation is currently in place, and the hotel has attested to its complete cooperation in the matter, the fact remains that hotel incidents continue to occur due to boilers and pool heaters which have not met the kind of requirements the public might expect to be in place in the hospitality industry. Lives are lost or permanently impacted due to preventable malfunctions which arise due to ignorance or neglect. It is especially tragic when children are involved. What begins as a joyful outing ends in a tragedy which ultimately was totally preventable.

In 2021, a carbon monoxide leak at a Freeport, Maine Comfort Suites resulted in the evacuation of all guests, a day after the incident occurred. The leak which was traced back to faulty water heaters was detected on a Monday when a carbon monoxide detector alerted to the presence of carbon monoxide in one of the rooms. The maintenance staff left a message on a business line for the fire department instead of calling 911, which resulted in the fire department responding a day after the carbon monoxide was detected. Four people were hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning as a result.

In 2021, an incident at the Westin Governor Morris in Morris Township, NJ led to a hotel evacuation. The source was traced back to issues with the boiler.

In 2021, the Crown Plaza Hotel located close to JFK Airport was evacuated with one first responder injured at the scene due to high levels of carbon monoxide.

In 2021, a Gulfport, MS Comfort Inns hotel evacuation sent five people to the hospital.

Hotel incidents involving carbon monoxide continue to occur. Often we are unable to determine the full story of the sequence of events until litigation occurs due to damages. In the Boone County case mentioned above, we find a hotel reopening rooms and further tragedies occurring because of a lack of proper inspection, investigation or even an accurate cause of death report. Prior complaints of symptoms reported by guests were minimized or written off to other causes such as food poisoning or illness. It raises the question of whether all out hotel evacuations are actually the first sign that something is not right with the hotel’s boiler systems?  Whatever the case, litigation often reveals a convoluted trail of neglect with many factors involved in the failure of fuel burning systems within the hotel industry. And a lot of that is hidden behind a facade of emphasis on the superficial amenities offered by hotels.  Appearance, technology and other issues are often addressed more passionately than the engines that run such facilities. In other words, it is more important financially to keep a hotel fully booked than safe. These tragedies often reflect an emphasis on market competition and in some cases, owners who focus on the bottom line rather than the nuts and bolts of hotel management.

With cold weather upon us and families seeking a respite from Covid closures and an outlet for children, parents need to be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, even at the hotel pool. What can be mistaken for food poisoning such as dizziness and nausea can cause symptoms of carbon monoxide to be ignored. Inevitably if several people seem to be affected, it becomes cause for concern. In many hotel incidents, prior multiple complaints have been minimized or attributed to other factors. In the Boone County hotel incident, an entire birthday party had complained of nausea and illness which was not reported and an 11-year-old lost his life as a result.

The incident in Marysville is still under investigation at this time as to why the carbon monoxide levels in the pool area resulted in serious injuries, we can only surmise the causal effect at this time. The story will emerge eventually and while we appreciate the hotel’s full cooperation, these are the kind of events that don’t happen without fault.

 

[1] https://www.nbc4i.com/author/jamie-ostroff/

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