Carbon monoxide leak kills manager at Legal Sea Foods in New York

Boston – A carbon monoxide leak at a Legal Sea Foods restaurant in Huntington Station, N.Y., is being blamed for the death of a manager and the sickening of 27 others. According to the New York Times, at around 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, police and other medical and emergency personnel responded to a call for a woman who had fallen and hit her head in the basement of the Legal Sea Foods in the Shops at Walt Whitman, and medical personnel recognized signs of a carbon monoxide leak.

With the woman, also a restaurant employee, was restaurant general manager Steven Nelson, 55. Both were unconscious. They were immediately taken in critical condition to Huntington Hospital, where Nelson was pronounced dead on arrival. Three Suffolk County police officer and four first aid volunteers were among the 27 people taken to area hospitals with signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Most have since been released from the hospital and none had life-threatening injuries.

A leak in the water heater in the basement of Legal Sea Foods may have been responsible for the release of carbon monoxide. Currently the leak is not thought to have spread beyond Legal Sea Foods, but a Panera Bread and Cheesecake Factory also located in the mall were evacuated as a precaution.

Legal Sea Foods has posted at least five messages expressing sympathy for Nelson and other victims on its Twitter account. In addition, a posting on the official Legal Sea Foods Facebook page credited to president and CEO Roger Berkowitz said this incident demonstrates the inadequacies of local codes for carbon monoxide detectors in commercial spaces, which Legal Sea Foods reportedly followed. Berkowitz also said in the posting that Legal Sea Foods will conduct an exhaustive safety check at all locations to ensure they exceed local carbon monoxide codes and will be at the forefront of efforts to strengthen them. The company did not comment in the article.

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