Transcript for 1 child dead, six others hospitalized for carbon-monoxide poisoning at Michigan hotel pool
Questions and outrage in Michigan tonight after a carbon monoxide leak at a hotel pool party took the life of a 13-year-old boy. The deadly gas is odorless, tasteless, and invisible but easily identified by low-cost detection devices. So how did this happen? Here's ABC's Matt Gutman. All I remember is me just passing out and hitting my head. Reporter: It was a birthday party gone tragically wrong. There are a reported 6 children in the pool area all passed out. Reporter: Saturday morning kids playing at the hotel pool at a Michigan quality inn and suites suddenly start feeling nauseated and light-headed. Then around 10:00 A.M. A hotel employee walks past and sees a horrific scene. A group of 12 to 14-year-olds on the pool deck, all of them unconscious. They were putting masks on them and they were just pulling bodies and they were laying them side by side. Reporter: The culprit is carbon monoxide, or C.O. Poisoning. It's a silent killer. The odorless, colorless, tasteless gas is a by-product of burning fuel and when not properly vented it can go unnoticed until it's too late. At the quality inn and suites pool area this past weekend the levels were dangerously high. 800 parts per million. 16 times higher than the federal safety level of 50 parts per million. The younger they are the more they're going to be impacted by the levels of -- higher levels of C.O. Reporter: First responders, some of whom were also treated for C.O. Poisoning, raced the children to area hospitals. One of them 13-year-old Brian Douglas Watts, died on the way. He was a goofy person. He was a good person. These are our last memories of him. It doesn't make sense. And I just pray that it never happens again. Reporter: Police say the source of the carbon monoxide leak, a broken pool heater. It's a story painfully similar to one we followed back in 2013. Jeanie Williams and her 11-year-old son Jeffrey checked into room 225 at the best western in boon, North Carolina. He liked to travel, and that was a neat thing to do for some reason. Reporter: But that particular room had a deadly secret. A carbon monoxide leak from a faulty pool heater just below. My last vision I have of him is just sitting on the edge of the bed and him holding the iPad and playing a game. Reporter: Sometime in the night Jeannie wakes up. Feeling sick, she crawls to the bathroom and realizes she should call 911. But her phone is in the other room. And I'm thinking I've just got to get to my phone. And I remember trying to get to the door and I couldn't. And then that's the last thing I remember. Reporter: The next morning a hotel employee comes to the room and discovers Jeannie and Jeffrey. I've got two bodies and I need some help now. Are they breathing? Are they awake? No. No. They're not. Next I remember is waking up in the hospital room. I couldn't talk. I guess that was from being in a coma. Reporter: Her husband delivers the devastating news. Their son Jeffrey has died. And then he just kept telling me be strong, I need you. I need you. Reporter: But unbelievably, Jeffrey isn't the first victim of room 225 at that best western. I look at my partner and I said, if I'm not mistaken that's the same room we had the last call in. What's your reaction? Then we walk in and we found two more bodies. Same room. Reporter: Emt Mike edmondston was the first responder to Jeannie and Jeffrey just like he had been seven weeks earlier. I just got if the room. There's two people. Neither one of them are breathing. Neither are breathing? No, ma'am. Reporter: Darryl and sheryly Jenkins, a retired couple from Washington state, also died from carbon monoxide poisoning in the same hotel room. The faulty pool heater created yet another near tragedy just days after the Jenkins death. The Zielinski family checked into the room just above 225 to celebrate their daughter's birthday with a pool party and sleepover. All girls were very sick. Puking in bathroom sinks, toilets, while I'm calling their parents. They were falling off like flies. It was very scary. Reporter: Solinski says she complained to the front desk. My name was written on a yellow sticky note and I was told the general manager would be told. Reporter: But Damon malatier whose company managed the hotel which is not owned by best western directly swears the clerk never told him. So you were not informed by your employees that people had gotten sick in the room right above 225? I was not. Reporter: It was that third incident in the hotel that led first responders to finally discover the toxic source. The heater's exhaust pipe was supposed to conduct the carbon monoxide safely outside. But hidden under a drop ceiling right under room 225, state investigators find the pipe is busted, full of holes, propped up with a vhs cassette tape and a hotel ice bucket, spewing poison gas into the room above. Malatier says authorities never mentioned carbon monoxide. Last year the hotel management company pled guilty to three counts of involuntary manslaughter in exchange for which charges were dropped against company president Damon mallatere. How often do you think about this? Every day. That boy, that elderly couple. Every day. Reporter: The boon, north Carolina best western is now under new ownership. In a statement to ABC news tonight about the Michigan hotel poisoning, Jeannie Williams said in part, "I was both infuriated and heartbroken. I simply do not know how many more tragedies must occur before actions are taken to ensure this never happens again." It's all the more disturbing because many carbon monoxide detectors sell for under $30. Dr. Linda weaver has been warning about the dangers of carbon monoxide in hotels for years. The reason a hotel is particularly dangerous is really because of the sheer number of people who could be there. Reporter: Incredibly, only 15 states have laws or regulations requiring carbon monoxide detectors in hotels. There is no federal law. And Michigan is one of those states. But it only requires them for hotels built after December 2009. Records show that the Niles quality inn and suites was built in 2000. This is a portable alarm, self-contained. Take the alarm with you. Because I'm not sure the hotel industry is going to do this across the board. Reporter: Tonight the hotel remains closed while law enforcement continues its investigation. The hotel chain telling ABC news, "Our thoughts are with the families who were affected," adding as their investigation continues "The highest priority is always the safety and well-being of our guests." Yesterday in Brian Watts' honor balloons were released into the fresh air that could have saved his life. For "Nightline" I'm Matt Gutman. Next -- more trouble at fox
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