Carbon monoxide leak at Utah school sends more than 40 to hospital

Nov. 19, 2013
Faulty water heater blamed for high carbon monoxide levels.

More than 40 people at an elementary school in southern Utah were hospitalized Monday because of a carbon monoxide leak caused by a faulty water heater system. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that children at Montezuma Creek Elementary School in Montezuma Creek, Utah, were passing out, vomiting and collapsing in dizziness. Douglas Wright, superintendent of the San Juan school district, says 44 students and adults were taken to hospitals and clinics.

MORE: A statement from the the San Juan district: "School maintenance officials found that the exhaust venting on a water heater had become disconnected causing the exhaust to stay in the building rather than being vented outside." The building has been aired out, and carbon monoxide levels returned to safe levels.

UPDATE: Utah does not require carbon monoxide detectors in schools, but one day after a leak at Montezuma Creek Elementary sent more than 50 people to the hospital and clinics, some officials are asking if that needs to change. The Salt Lake Tribune says the school’s 49-year-old reading coach was in serious condition at a local hospital; on Tuesday, most of the school’s 300 students and staff returned to classes.

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