Niles teen's death prompts look at carbon monoxide detectors


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - West Michigan is on the brink of a heat wave, and that means plenty people will be hitting the pool.

But there could be danger lurking at indoor swimming facilities.

Just a few months ago, a Niles teen, 13-year-old Bryan Watts, died when a carbon monoxide leak at a hotel pool went undetected.

Tonight, the I-Team is uncovering why some indoor pools may be more vulnerable than others to a similar situation.

This comes just one day after the Berrien County Prosecutor decided not to press criminal charges against the West Michgan hotel, where that deadly leak occurred.

That hotel didn't have a carbon monoxide detector in the pool area. We're looking at which indoor pools in our area do have detectors.

The hotel pool heater at the Quality Inn, in Niles, malfunctioned, filling the pool room with deadly gas--there was no carbon monoxide detector inside.

For Steve Springsdorf, of Kalamazoo, the deadly leak hit close to home from an incident years ago.

"My wife and father in law almost passed away from it when they were in an older farm house," he said.

Today, Steve is the Executive Director of the YMCA in Kalamazoo, where you'll find carbon monoxide detectors everywhere--even near the pool area.

It turns out Michigan regulations require licensed child care providers, like the YMCA, to have the detectors. The Quality Inn isn't a child care provider, so it falls through the cracks. Springsdorf says it shouldn't have.

"It's not that expensive to do, and why wouldn't you take that precaution?" he said.

As for other indoor pools that might not fall under the child care regulations requiring detectors,

He says larger indoor pools are less vulnerable because of ventilation.

But he also says smaller indoor pools, even if they fall through the regulatory cracks, should learn from the Quality Inn tragedy and install detectors,

"Any time you have enclosed spaces and there's combustion in the area, use caution, put a detector in," Springsdorf said.

Springsdorf says it's important to ask and make sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed at indoor pools before taking your family there.

We should point out new laws have been introduced since the Quality Inn tragedy that would strengthen carbon monoxide detector laws in our state.

You can see the Newschannel 3 I-Team's reporting of that legislation here.

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