City government officials in Key West,
Fla., were continuing to investigate the Dec. 27 death of a 26-year
old guest staying at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort, which was
apparently caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty
The Key West
Building Department revoked the hotel's certificate of occupancy
and its occupational license on Dec. 29 and said they would not be
reinstated until a licensed mechanical engineer had independently
certified that the building is safe.
At press time,
the 216-room hotel remained closed. Doubletree is a Hilton Hotels brand. Calls to Hilton
requesting comment had not been returned by press time.
Corp., a Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based firm that operates the
Doubletree, issued a statement saying it was working "'closely with
officials"' and "'conscientiously taking action to put new
standards and equipment in place."'
According to the
Key West Police Department, the victim was Thomas Lueders, who was
staying in a room with his father on the fourth floor of the
property. His father, who became ill, was flown to a hospital in
medical examiner, in a preliminary report, determined that carbon
monoxide contributed to Lueders' death.
hotel room, according to a preliminary investigation, was adjacent
to the hotel's boiler room. The investigation has since focused on
the possibility that the boiler might have been the source of
Phillips, the police department's public information officer,
declined to comment further.
completing our reports and turning it over to the state attorney's
office to see if they want to file charges,"' she said.
The state fire
marshal on Jan. 4 began surveying all establishments in Key West
that use boilers and hot water heaters to identify potential
About 500 people
die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning each year. However,
carbon monoxide-related deaths are virtually unheard of at
The Lueders death
"'is the only incident that anyone could remember,"' said Joanna
Weinhofer, president of the Lodging Association, a trade group
representing lodging establishments in the Keys. Weinhofer said the
Doubletree Grand Key is a member.
Lueders' death a "'tragic accident,"' Weinhofer also said it was
"'a single incident. I don't think it says anything about the
safety of our lodging industry whatsoever."'
circumstances surrounding the death have raised several questions
regarding the thoroughness of city hotel inspections and whether
municipalities should mandate that hotels install carbon-monoxide
Lueders' death, Heartland Hotel Corp. ordered all 11 of its hotels
in the U.S. to install carbon monoxide detectors. Florida does not
require such detectors.
senior vice president of governmental affairs for the American
Hotels and Lodging Association, said that only three states --
Illinois, New Jersey, and Massachusetts -- have carbon monoxide
laws that in some manner apply to lodging.
Involved in the
Key West investigation is a multi-agency task force comprising the
fire and police departments, the State Attorney's Office, the State
Department of Health, the Monroe County Medical Examiner, the State
Fire Marshal's Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosions Investigations,
the Bureau of Fire Prevention and the Department of Agriculture
Division of Standards.
To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].