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Pool chemicals in Marriott hot tub suspected reason family sent to the hospital

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 11:27 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Firefighters responded to reports of the kids coughing and wheezing at the Cedar Rapids Marriott hot tub on Wednesday night.

Dominique Everett says she took her four kids on a staycation to the Marriott in Cedar Rapids Wednesday night and was spending time in the hotel’s hot tub.

But moments after they stepped out of the hotel hot tub, everything changed.

“We all started coughing, choking, couldn’t breathe, all of my kids were throwing up, spitting up, gasping for air,” she said.

Everett says at the moment the smell of chlorine was strong, and then a maintenance worker hit the emergency shut off button.

“And once he went back and turned off the emergency stop button, that’s when it started and it was instant. Then when I looked down the water was right away green… like green,” she said.

Pool chemicals in Marriott hot tub suspected reason family sent to the hospital
Pool chemicals in Marriott hot tub suspected reason family sent to the hospital(KCRG-TV9)

Marriott Hotels issued a statement, saying it takes guest safety very seriously. It has since closed the hot tub area.

Pool chemicals in Marriott hot tub suspected reason family sent the hospital
Pool chemicals in Marriott hot tub suspected reason family sent the hospital(KCRG-TV9)

The Cedar Rapids Police said it appears the children had some sort of allergic reaction with difficulty breathing, caused allegedly by hotel staff mixing up chemicals.

KCRG-TV9 looked into Linn County Public Health records. Inspections on public pools and spas happen annually and Marriott has had a pretty clean record, with one violation last year.

“The one violation they had in October of last year related to their emergency action plan, every aquatic facility is required to have what’s called an emergency action plan or action plan as some people call it,” said Dustin Hinrichs, Food and Aquatic Safety Supervisor for Linn County Public Health. “Basically that’s just a written plan that tells and helps train their employees as to what they’re to do in response to an emergency. This would be one of those types of emergencies.”

Hinrichs said chemicals move faster in smaller bodies of water such as a hot tub and that it’s likely disinfection levels were too high causing excess chlorine.

The children went by ambulance to St. Luke’s hospital, received treatment for chlorine gas exposure, and are now recovering at home.

“My baby loves water, she loves going swimming, and she’ll probably never feel the same again,” said Everett. “It’s not acceptable at all. It’s not acceptable.”

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