Leaky pipe behind carbon monoxide poisoning in US restaurant

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 10:01pm


A carbon monoxide leak that killed a restaurant manager in Long Island, New York, and sickened more than two dozen other people was caused by a leaky pipe, officials said.

All of those who were made ill in the Saturday incident were either restaurant workers or emergency responders, said A.J.Carter, a spokesman for the town of Huntington.

Steven Nelson, the manager at the Legal Sea Foods restaurant, was found dead in the basement. Carter said on Sunday that some emergency responders became sickened by carbon monoxide when they entered the room where Nelson was found.

Roger Berkowitz, president and chief executive, said Nelson, 55, had worked for the restaurant for three years and had two sons.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas released when something burns. The gas can cause suffocation when breathed by people and animals.

Huntington fire investigators found that the carbon monoxide leak came from a leaky flue pipe for a water heater in the basement of the restaurant, Carter said.

As a result, Carter said, the town issued the restaurant a summons for having "faulty equipment".

There were no issues when the building passed a town inspection last March, Carter said, and another inspection was due next month.

The New York state fire code did not require restaurants to have carbon monoxide detectors, and there were no such detectors in the restaurant when the incident happened, Carter said.

Berkowitz said the carbon monoxide leak was "a wake-up call for commercial businesses" and that monitors should be in all businesses.