EDENTON, N.C. (WAVY) — Doctors at Duke University Hospital in Durham continue to monitor nine employees of a Chowan County catering business after a carbon monoxide leak Wednesday morning.
Kelly Herr, a spokesperson for Chowan Hospital, says 15 patients were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, including five first responders who were released with non-life threatening injures. Nine employees were later flown in eight helicopters to Duke University Hospital, according to Police Chief Jay Fortenbery.
Medics were dispatched to Leon Nixon Catering just after 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to Fortenbery, who says crews found an employee in pain lying on their stomach.
The chief say a second call came in shortly after for a second employee who claimed to be experiencing heart pain.
Within the same two-hour period, Fortenbery says a third employee called for help from his house shortly after getting off work at the catering business.
Officer Gerald Lassiter responded to the calls, connected the dots and rushed back to the business on the 700 block Virginia Road to evacuate all the employees, says Fortenbery. By the time Lassiter arrived back at the business, several more employees complained of headaches and nausea. Other employees could not stand up, he said.
The chief says a total of 13 people were evacuated.
Fire investigators discovered a hot water heater broken at the top, which subsequently discharged carbon monoxide through the air conditioning system.
Leon Nixon’s daughter was at the business Wednesday afternoon but did not want to talk on camera. She said her father received some of the most exposure but he was in stable condition.
Leon Nixon Catering will remain closed Thursday as the crews works to repair the faulty hot water heater.
The business says they hope to open for lunch and dinner on Sunday.
It’s not yet clear if the business had working carbon monoxide detectors installed.
Chief Fortenbery says at this point he does not expect any criminal charges to be filed.