Nicolai Pamukoff, 12 Others, Injured In Chemical Exposure Accident At YMCA Swimming Pool By Weyman Avenue and Bayard Street In New Rochelle
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK (September 21, 2021) – Nicolai Pamukoff was one of 13 people injured after being exposed to chlorine gas at the YMCA swimming pool in New Rochelle.
Westchester County officials first got reports about the accident around 7:14 a.m. on Monday, September 20th. Multiple people were in respiratory distress and 13 people sustained injuries.
A life-guard for the YMCA blew their whistle and began evacuating people from the pool area. Firefighters in hazmat suits were called to the YMCA and 13 people were taken to the hospital. One person was reported to be in serious condition.
Nicolai Pamukoff was one of those that were hospitalized. He told local reporters that he was thankful to be alive. He also said that people were screaming, crying and panicking after the incident. Some were spitting up blood.
Investigators are saying that an employee at the YMCA accidentally mixed chlorine and hydrochloric acid. This created a noxious cloud of chlorine gas that swept through the pool area.
A full investigation into the YMCA chemical exposure accident that injured Nicolai Pamukoff and 12 others remains ongoing at this time.
Liability In Chemical Exposure Accidents At The New Rochelle YMCA
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, chlorine gas is poisonous and is categorized as a pulmonary irritant. It was once used as a chemical weapon in World War 1. In the modern era, most exposure incidents occur through either industrial or household exposures. Exposure to chlorine gas for 30 minutes or more at 430 parts per million (ppm) can be fatal. Acute exposure to chlorine gas can lead to numerous symptoms including:
- Chest pain
- Corneal burns
- Hemoptysis (i.e., spitting up blood originating from the lungs or bronchial tubes)
Anyone exposed to chlorine gas should immediately move to a location where fresh air is available, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They should quickly seek medical help. There are two main strategies that should be understood and implemented to reduce the likelihood of chlorine gas accidents. Staff should be properly trained in safety protocols. Chemicals should never be randomly mixed unless this is being done by qualified experts. All pool equipment should be regularly inspected and properly maintained. In particular, the chemical feed equipment could potentially leak and create a chemical exposure if those lines aren’t maintained.
All gyms and businesses in New York have a legal responsibility to maintain their areas in a reasonably safe environment. This is especially important for swimming pools where a dangerous environment could lead to someone drowning or being exposed to chemicals. In the seminal case Basso v. Miller, 40 N.Y.2d 233 (1976), the New York State Court of Appeals held that landowners owe a duty of care to all persons frequenting their property regardless of their status – insofar as their presence was reasonably foreseeable. When a property owner has either “actual knowledge” or “constructive notice” of a defect of their property they must take action to correct that defect.
Failing to correct a defect on a property could potentially result in liability for the property owner in the event of an accident. In addition to a potential negligence claim based on a defect with a property, a business owner could potentially be liable for the negligent conduct of an employee. As a general rule, employers in New York are liable for the wrongful acts of employees – insofar as the wrongful act was reasonably foreseeable and a natural incident of their employment. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any chemical exposure accident:
- Medical treatment should be sought and well documented.
- Make sure that there is a report of the accident with local authorities.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- A thorough investigation should be conducted.
- A premises liability attorney should be consulted.
Any person that is injured in a chemical exposure accident may be able to seek justice through a bodily injury claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills, future medical bills and pain and suffering. Some of the effects of chemical exposure could potentially be permanent or long lasting. It’s unwise to just assume that you’re ok after any incident. A premises liability attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating A Chemical Exposure Accident At The New Rochelle YMCA
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our best wishes to Nicolai Pamukoff and all of those that were injured at the YMCA in New Rochelle. Any person that may have information about what happened should reach out to authorities. There needs to be a thorough investigation and some accountability for the sake of the victims.
This incident at the YMCA raises a number of important safety questions. Why did an employee allegedly mix chlorine and hydrochloric acid? Were they instructed to do this? Did they receive proper training? It is our sincere hope that measures are put in place to make this location safe for all the people who visit. No one should ever have to worry about being exposed to potentially lethal gases while swimming.