Carbon monoxide poisoning sends team to hospital

Roaring Fork in town for tournament

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— A carbon monoxide leak at 2010 Montview Lane sent 10 out-of-town girls basketball players and three coaches to the hospital Friday morning.

The Roaring Fork High School team was staying at a private home where a flue pipe broke away from a boiler and leaked carbon monoxide into the house. The team, who came to Steamboat Springs for a weekend basketball tournament, was treated at Yampa Valley Medical Center and released Friday afternoon.

"Now that everything has started to calm down, that was pretty scary and we are darn lucky," coach Jacky Gaddis said.

When the team awoke Friday morning, all but one reported having headaches and nausea. A 911 call went out at 8:49 a.m. and two ambulances took the group to the hospital.

The girls and coaches reported having between 12 percent and 16 percent carbon monoxide in their blood streams. They said doctors had told them if the saturation were any higher, the team would have had to be flown to Denver.

"I think about what could have happened and I get scared," player Laura Wright said.

Steamboat Springs Assistant Fire Chief Bob Struble said Atmos Energy checked the house and found a flue pipe in the boiler leaking the poisonous gas. The house was heated by natural gas. An inspection from the Routt County Building Department has to be made before the house can be used.

The seven-bedroom duplex home is managed by a property management company. The basketball team had rented the same house during last year's Steamboat Shoot-Out tournament.

The girls arrived at the house Thursday afternoon and spent about an hour there before playing their first game. In that amount of time, some of the girls had already started complaining of headaches. The team returned to the house at 9:30 that night and did not go to bed until 12:30 a.m.

Basketball player Tarn Udall said at about 2:30 a.m. Friday, she woke up with a bad headache and nausea, she took an aspirin and went back to bed. Megan Zeigel, whose mother is an assistant coach, woke up shortly afterward with the same symptoms.

"I woke up to get my mom. I was just so sick," Zeigel said. "I couldn't make it up the stairs. I felt like I was about to pass out."

The girls said snowplows woke them up at about 5:30 in the morning and kept them awake, despite the strong urge to go back to bed.

"I woke up and a headache doesn't even explain it," player Brie Bath said. "We dragged ourselves out of bed to get some Tylenol."

Gaddis said at first they thought it was food poisoning or influenza but eventually narrowed the cause down to carbon monoxide. Just as the ambulances were arriving, Gaddis said the team was ready to load into the school bus to get away from the house.

When the girls arrived at the hospital, still in their pajamas, they were hooked up to oxygen tanks, some for more than four hours.

As the girls watched the basketball games at Steamboat Spring High School Friday night, they said they still felt as if they were just getting over the flu.

Doctors prohibited the girls from playing in Friday's tournament. They rescheduled the Jefferson Academy game for this morning and will play Aspen this afternoon.

Staff reporter Melinda Mawdsley contributed to this story.

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