Terence McNally, chief fire marshal for the town of
Huntington, said the malfunctioning pipe had allowed for the buildup
of the deadly gas on Saturday in the basement of the Legal Sea Foods
restaurant at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington Station, 40 miles
east of New York City.
A Suffolk County Police Department spokeswoman said arson and
homicide detectives were still examining the leak on Sunday. She
said police were not confirming that the water heater flue pipe was
the source of the leak, and that the restaurant's heating system was
Police went to the restaurant around 6 p.m. on Saturday after
reports that a worker had passed out and fallen down a set of
As police cleared the restaurant of its customers, officers found
the 55-year-old manager, Steven Nelson, unconscious in the basement.
He died of cardiac arrest as he was being transferred by ambulance
to Huntington Hospital, according to hospital spokeswoman Julie
Twenty-seven other people, most of them restaurant workers but also
including four ambulance personnel and three police officers, were
transported to five area hospitals with non-life-threatening
symptoms, police said.
The Legal Sea Foods restaurant remained closed on Sunday as did a
nearby Panera Bread, which was also evacuated on Saturday. A third
restaurant cleared of its customers on Saturday, The Cheesecake
Factory, was open for business on Sunday, according to an employee
who answered the phone.
Legal Sea Foods, which has locations around the northeastern and
mid-Atlantic United States, said in several postings on Twitter it
was "devastated by the news of carbon monoxide poisoning," and that
it was "profoundly saddened to learn of the tragic death of our
General Manager Steve Nelson," adding "Our thoughts and prayers are
with his family."
[to top of second column]
A restaurant representative who answered the phone at company
headquarters in Boston on Sunday said company officials were
unavailable to comment until Monday.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden
illness or death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. It is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced
by car engines, gas ranges or heating systems.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness,
weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion, the CDC says
on its website.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere;
editing by Barbara Goldberg, Marguerita Choy and Mohammad Zargham)
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