Diagnostic confusion also appears to have played a role in the Sandals case. The day before they left, two of the deceased, Robbie Phillips, 65, a travel consultant who was actually one of Sandals’ top salespeople, and her husband, Michael, 68, checked themselves into a medical facility complaining of nausea and vomiting, according to local authorities. Donnis Chiarella, 65, who was staying on the other side of the wall, also went to a clinic, his son told ABC News. All returned to their adjacent beachfront villas, where the Phillips and Ms Chiarella’s husband Vincent, 64, were found unresponsive the next morning according to local authorities. Later that day, all three were pronounced dead. Ms. Chiarella, who had to be hospitalized, was the only survivor.
To further complicate the diagnosis, there are often no major clues before the invisible, odorless gas renders someone too disoriented to act, said Patrick Morrison, chief of field services for the International Association of Fire Fighters. , the largest union of firefighters and paramedics in the United States. He said his union supported requiring detectors in all hotel dormitories for this reason.
“If you can’t get out into the fresh air, you’ll be overwhelmed with it,” Mr Morrison said. “That’s why people die in their sleep.”
Mr Markowski returned to his room where at one point he remembers being lying on the floor screaming.
Fuel and bird’s nest
Carbon monoxide is released when an appliance burns fuel such as gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood or charcoal. The most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning in hotels are boilers and heaters used to heat swimming pools and the water in an entire wing, said poisoning specialist Dr. Lindell K. Weaver carbon monoxide at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City. Gas clothes dryers, fireplaces, gas-powered portable pool cleaners and portable generators are other sources of carbon monoxide leaks.
If these devices are working properly – or, in the case of generators, if used in a safe location outdoors – they should not pose a hazard. Carbon monoxide, in small amounts, will exit through the exhaust vent. Problems usually arise when the unit malfunctions or the vent is blocked or broken. In Mr Markowski’s case, fire reports identified a bird’s nest blocking the vents in the room with the hot water tanks.
The gas can follow air currents through vents, small holes, and even drywall, sometimes ending up far from the original source of the leak. In this case, the gas likely entered Room 205 through holes and crevices in the floor, according to firefighters.