Family and lawyers speak out in Niles carbon-monoxide poisoning death lawsuit
SOUTH BEND —
The law firm representing the family of a boy who died in a carbon monoxide leak at the Niles Quality Inn & Suites are speaking out about the lawsuit filed against a local hotel.
They say their goal is to raise awareness about the dangers.
Lawyers say they have gotten subpoena power. They say they don't have all the all the information they need.
Now that the lawsuit has been filed in Berrien County Circuit Court, they can start asking questions and getting answers.
They say this tragedy could have been prevented and they want to stop it from happening again.
Paula Watts will always remember April 1 as the day she lost her son,13-year-old Bryan Douglas-Watts.
He died after a carbon monoxide leak at the Quality Inn and Suites in Niles.
Police say a "high level" of CO was found in the pool area of the hotel, the highest level recorded was 800 parts per million.
"Not just kids but folks that went in to rescue these kids were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. They put themselves in harm’s way to save seven kids who were found unresponsive. They looked dead, they were motionless,” said attorney, Ven Johnson.
Lawyers for Bryan's mother and five other victims are calling first responder heroes. They argue a faulty pool heater system caused the pool area to fill with CO.
"This pool heater thing is really a problem, absolutely predicable, preventable, and easily avoided if you have a licensed mechanical engineer who knows what they're doing,” Johnson said.
They say Michigan law only requires commercial buildings built after 2009 to have carbon monoxide detectors.
They say in Indiana there is no such law.
Watts say it's painful to think that Bryan is no longer here because there's no state regulations protecting people. She says that needs to change.
"What hurts the most is for him not to be here anymore is due to something so simple as a carbon monoxide detector not working. And that he can't do what he loved to do,” Watts said.
LaPorte recently passed an ordinance requiring detectors in new construction. But lawyers argue there need to be statewide legislation.
They say that's the ultimate goal of their lawsuit and to get compensation for the victims.