100 SICK AS GAS LEAKS INTO VA. DORM
July 14, 2006
SALEM, Va. - Carbon monoxide leaked into a college dormitory early Friday,
killing a man and sickening more than 100 teenagers and adults attending summer programs at Roanoke College, the school said.
College spokeswoman Teresa
Gereaux said the victims were taken to two Roanoke Valley hospitals in ambulances or vans after complaining of headaches, nausea, dizziness
An elderly man died before
reaching the hospital, said Nancy May, a spokeswoman for Lewis-Gale Medical Center.
Others described the scene
in the dorm Friday morning as chaotic.
"One woman fell on the floor
in the bathroom," said Annabelle Minter, 80, of Richmond.
Minter said she also felt "on the dizzy side" and was taken to a hospital, but her roommate was even sicker.
Of the 62 people taken to
Lewis-Gale, five were admitted — one in critical condition and the others in fair condition — and four others
were being evaluated, said Candi Carroll, director of emergency services. The woman in critical condition was "awake, alert
and responding," said Dr. Robert Dowling.
At Carilion Roanoke Memorial
Hospital, spokesman Steve Munsey said five of the 49 people treated there
might be admitted. Munsey said the patients, ages 15-82, were checked for carbon monoxide in their blood and given oxygen
through face masks.
About 100 of the dormitory
guests had traveled from across Virginia, North Carolina
and Pennsylvania to attend Power in the Spirit, a three-day
Lutheran conference. There were also 37 teenage girls from southwest Virginia
staying there as part of the Upward Bound program, Gereaux said.
Those in the church group
appeared to have been more severely affected, but it was due more to where they were located in the dorm than their age, Dowling
Shortly before dawn, people
staying there called campus police from the dorm's emergency phone, and the police notified the Salem Fire Department.
The source of the carbon
monoxide leak had not been located by noon, fire officials said.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless,
odorless and tasteless gas that can cause sickness or death. Leaks in buildings typically come from furnaces, heaters and
other gasoline-powered equipment. "It's essentially like drowning on the air," Dowling said.
Gereaux said the dormitory
was built in the 1920s and renovated in the 1980s.