Hotel carbon monoxide leak kills boy, 13, attending birthday party, sickens 14 others

NILES, Mich. -- A teenage boy died and 14 other people were hospitalized after guests at a southern Michigan hotel were found unconscious around an indoor pool.

Fire officials said they believe the cause was carbon monoxide poisoning.

Good Morning America reports a group of children attending a middle school birthday party Saturday were swimming at the Quality Inn & Suites, in Niles, Mich., a town of about 11,000 just north of the Indiana state line.

Around 10 a.m., a hotel staffer peered through a window and saw several children lying unconscious on the deck of the indoor pool. Another child, who police said had just left the pool area, was found unresponsive in a first-floor room. Their ages range from 12 to 14 years old.

Jessica Hines, a spokeswoman for Lakeland Hospital in Niles, told CNN one person was "confirmed dead on arrival." The Niles Police Department identified the deceased as 13-year-old Bryan Douglas Watts of Niles. Family and friends released balloons in his memory over the weekend.

A total of eight children were taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Ind. Hospital officials said a police officer and three other children were treated and released Saturday and five more children were released Sunday.

Lakeland Hospital said a hotel worker was released from the hospital Sunday after earlier being reported in good condition and four law enforcement officers were treated and released on Saturday.

Carbon monoxide levels were high, police say

Police responded to the hotel around 10 a.m. ET, according to CNN affiliate WNDU-TV.

Police said that, when they arrived, carbon monoxide levels at the hotel were 800 parts per million, according to CNN affiliate WBND-TV. US standards for carbon monoxide are 35 parts per million for a one-hour exposure.

"That's an extreme danger level. At 800 you only have minutes," Niles Fire Department Captain Don Wise said.

Wise attributed the incident to a faulty pool heater.

"The ventilation system on the heater had issues. The exhaust was not functioning properly," said Wise. "Our mechanical inspector verified that. The hotel is shut down now until repairs are made."

He said the hotel's pool room had no carbon monoxide detectors "to the best of our knowledge."

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that is produced when a fuel is burned. When too much carbon monoxide is in the air, it can replace the oxygen in red blood cells and can lead to tissue damage or death.

Choice Hotels, which owns the Quality brand, released a statement about the incident, saying it is "working closely with local officials to manage the situation. ... Our highest priority is always the safety and well-being of our guests."

Good Morning America and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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