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Chlorine gas exposure at Iowa Marriott

The incident occurred at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Marriott Hotel on January 13, 2021, and involved a mother and her three children. Emergency personnel were sent to respond to reports of the kids coughing and wheezing after spending time in the hotel’s hot tub.

Dominique Everett, the mother, said that moments after stepping out of the 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 said the smell of chlorine was strong. A maintenance worker then 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.

Firefighters arrived on the scene to find the three children, a 1-year-old girl, 3-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy in a room with their mother. The firefighters were told that the children had been swimming and the hotel staff had allegedly mixed up some pool chemicals in the water and too much chlorine was accidentally released into the pool, causing the children to become sick.

All three children were transported by ambulance to UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital, received treatment for chlorine gas exposure, and were released to recover at home. All three were conscious and breathing upon arrival.

According to Linn County Public Health records, the Cedar Rapids Marriott has had a fairly clean record, with one violation last year.

Dustin Hinrichs, Food and Aquatic Safety Supervisor for Linn County Public Health, said the one violation they had in October of last year was related to their emergency action plan, which every aquatic facility is required to have.

“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.

The Marriott closed the hot tub area, and issued the following statement: The safety of our guests and associates is a top priority for our owners and management team. We take this matter very seriously and are committed to our high standards and addressing any concerns raised by our guests. To respect the privacy of our guests, we cannot comment further on any specific complaints.

The children's’ mother said what happened was not acceptable.

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

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