It can’t be smelled or seen, but toxic carbon monoxide fumes can be detected if the proper equipment is present. Unfortunately, no security precautions were in place when carbon dioxide poisoning claimed the life of 26-year-old Thomas Lueders in room 416 of the Doubletree Grand Key Resort in Key West, Fla., December 29.
Nearly a week before Lueder’s death, three people staying in room 416 fell ill. They were being treated at Mariners Hospital in Tavernier for possible food poisoning, where it was discovered they had carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to Lower Keys Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Meylan Lowe-Watler, the hotel was told about the potential hazard; fire, police and rescue personnel also were notified. Why the hotel took no steps to remedy the problem is unclear, but investigators found the source of the fumes in the fourth-floor boiler room, next to room 416. Investigators also found work being done at the hotel without proper city permits. Boilers are supposed to be inspected every two years, but fire department officials were unable to find proof of inspection (the hotel opened in 2000).
The hotel, one of Key West’s largest, has been shut down for at least a month. The Florida Building Code does not require the mandatory installation of carbon monoxide detectors, but days after Lueder’s death, Miami’s city council passed an ordinance requiring all owners of all hotels, motels, and residential and rental units to install carbon monoxide detectors.
Source: Miami Herald