First responders stand outside Panera Bread's store at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington station, N.Y., on Feb. 22.(Photo: Steve Silverman, AP)
HUNTINGTON STATION, N.Y. (USA TODAY) - Officials investigating a carbon monoxide leak at a New York mall
that killed one and injured more than two dozen are focusing on the
heating system of a restaurant.
A manager at Legal Sea Foods, a
restaurant at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station on Long
Island, died Saturday. Police identified him as Steven Nelson, 55.
Authorities said 27 other people were taken to five area hospitals. None
appear to have life-threatening injuries.
All of those
affected by the fumes were restaurant employees, police or ambulance
workers, said Suffolk County Police Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick.
now, we are inspecting the heating system, and this incident seems to
be confined to the basement area," Fitzpatrick said. "It does not appear
to have made it in the area of the restaurant where the customers
Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and can lead to death by suffocation.
The medical examiner will determine the cause of Nelson's death, Fitzpatrick said.
Sea Foods tweeted: "We are profoundly saddened to learn of the tragic
death of our General Manager Steve Nelson. Our thoughts and prayers are
with his family."
Fitzpatrick said the initial call to police came
shortly after 6 p.m. about a woman who had fallen and hit her head in
the basement of Legal Sea Foods.
Rescue workers who arrived at the
scene started to feel lightheaded and nauseated and suspected a carbon
monoxide leak, Fitzpatrick said.
In addition to Legal Sea
Foods, two other restaurants, Panera Bread and The Cheesecake Factory,
were evacuated as a precaution. The mall remained open.
told us to leave because of a gas leak," Cheesecake Factory patron
Kathy Sella said. "I didn't want to blow up or anything like that. We
were at the bar having a glass of wine and then, one of the waitresses,
she said you have to leave."
The Walt Whitman Shops, located about 35 miles east of New York City, has more than 80 stores.
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