Clear water doesn’t mean good water. Improperly balanced water can irritate the skin and eyes and sometimes even make it difficult to breath. There are many pool chemicals on the market that are incompatible. Mixing incompatible products creates a toxic environment that can lead to burns as well as explosions. Hotel operators should always consider formal employee training in pool maintenance or opt to use a certified professional to maintain property pools. WNEP, Dave Bohman, reports a hotel pool party that quickly became a toxic situation leaving children with burns covering their bodies.
SCRANTON — A New Year’s Eve pool party at a hotel in Lackawanna County turned into a trip to the emergency room for some children, and their parents say the hotel is trying to cover up the incident.
12 children were treated for what emergency responders called chemical burns after they spent New Year’s Eve swimming in the pool at the Springhill Suites in Moosic. Four of the kids even went to the hospital.
Their parents still don’t know what chemical caused the burns. They are preparing to sue.
Six-year-old Collin Megotz of Scranton has autism. His mother Tiffany says the boy used to like to swim.
“He screamed. He tried to run out of the pool area on me. He threw himself into the walls and onto the floor and was screaming,” Tiffany Megotz said.
The Megotz family came to enjoy a pizza and pool party along with other members of a support group for children with special needs. As the parents looked on, 12 kids with the group went swimming.
About a half hour into the party, kids complained their eyes, lungs, and skin were burning.
“He was screaming to the point where some of the guests at the hotel would call and report me because he was screaming so much,” Megotz added.
“These poor little kids they were all crying, and the skin literally looked like it was melting off their face,” said Kimberly Hart of Moscow.
“My older son with autism started complaining about his eyes burning,” said Lori Jumper of Moscow.
Parents convinced a desk clerk to call 911.
Eight kids were treated at the hotel. Collin Megotz and his three brothers and sisters were taken by ambulance to Geisinger CMC in Scranton. They were treated for chemical burns and released early in the morning.
“It had to be something in the pool,” said Tiffany Megotz.
When the fire chief arrived that night, he used a test strip to test the hotel pool water. It showed normal levels of chlorine in the water.
Leaders of the Greenwood Hose Company in Moosic would not comment on the New Year’s Eve incident, but records show paramedics at the scene wanted to know the same thing as the parents: what was in the pool water.
Hose company records show the Greenwood fire chief “requested the pool area be closed until [EMS] can contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health about possibly testing the water.”
Those records also show “the pool water was drained” just hours after the incident.
“Is it a cover up? Absolutely,” attorney Kevin Quinn said. “They refuse to accept any accountability at all and the lack of respect for these families is appalling.”
Records from the Greenwood Hose Company also show that the hotel’s own contractor tested the water, finding “high levels” of a chemical not named in the report. It also says a hotel employee “noted an alarm condition with the pool equipment” less than two hours after children were treated and sent to the hospital.
The next day, New Year’s Day, members of the support group went to the front desk clerk of the Springhill Suites to check out.
“At one point, she did say, she was like, ‘I hope you enjoyed your stay,’ and I said, ‘Seriously?’” Jumper said.
The hotel refunded room fees to the families in the support group, but Tiffany Megotz and her husband owe almost $5,000 for the ambulance trip and medical care for their four children.
“They treated me like garbage, basically,” Tiffany Megotz said.
In a statement emailed to Newswatch 16, Springhill Suites claims the pool water was tested by both the fire chief and Lackawanna County Emergency Management Agency. The test results found “no abnormal readings.”
The acting director of Lackawanna County’s EMA said it did not test the pool water.
Springhill Suites also says it contacted its insurance company about compensating the families involved in the pool incident, but says the families are not giving medical or billing records.