Faulty Pipe Leaves One Dead, Dozens Hospitalized In Carbon Monoxide Leak At NY Mall

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A faulty water heater flue pipe is being blamed for a deadly carbon monoxide leak at a New York mall that left one dead and dozens injured Saturday night.

Police and emergency crews were called to the mall after a woman collapsed in the basement of Legal Sea Foods at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station, Long Island.

First responders soon felt dizzy as well and attributed the symptoms to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Suffolk County police.

When authorities evacuated the restaurant, they found the 55-year-old restaurant manager unresponsive in the basement.

"Police evacuated the restaurant and found the manager, Steven Nelson, 55, of Copiague, unconscious in the basement," a police statement said. "He was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead."

Huntington Chief Fire Marshal Terence McNally said the fumes from the leaky pipe circulated in the basement through ventilation systems. 

The restaurant did not have a carbon monoxide detector, which are only required by state fire codes to be installed in places where people sleep.

The restaurant had passed inspection last March and was scheduled for another inspection next month.

The company was cited for defective equipment, which carries a fine up to $2,000, and the building deemed unfit for human habitation. 

Legal Sea Foods released a statement offering condolences to Nelson’s family.

"We are devastated by the news of carbon monoxide poisoning at Walt Whitman Mall and the death of our General Manager Steve Nelson. Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve's family and all those who were affected by the leak," it said in a statement on its website. "Steve's tragic death is a shock to all of us at Legal Sea Foods. He was one of the finest people we've ever had the pleasure of working with. We are deeply saddened. Our restaurant remains closed."

Sources: CNN, ABC News