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May 20, 2011 10:05 PM

Family Speaks Out About Carbon Monoxide

sioux falls, sd

The father of one of the hockey players who got sick called Mayor Mike Huether's office Friday morning because he knew something wasn't right and he was frustrated with the answers the managers of the facility were giving them.

It's been a long week for 12-year-old Jake Otta. It started with a hockey practice that ended with a trip to the emergency room.

"Even in the locker room people couldn't bend down to tie their skates without like feeling a lot of pain, or they couldn't even see we were just all unusually tired," Jake Otta said.

Otta and his teammates suffered from exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide coming off the Zamboni. And, Otta's dad, Jarrod Otta, wasn't happy with what he was hearing from the ice rink's manager.

"I knew from talking to the people who were there that the fans weren't running, so I knew there was a problem and I knew the whole truth wasn't being told," Jarrod Otta said.

And that's exactly what Mayor Mike Huether and Sioux Falls Parks Director Don Kearney found out Friday. The fans weren't turned on like they were supposed to be and the Zamboni had a bad carburetor.

"When you're sitting at home watching you guys (KELO) on TV and all you get is, 'there's really not a problem it was just four skaters,' it doesn't make you feel good. Because when your son's in the ER with a facemask on getting oxygen you know there's a problem. It's nice to get to the bottom of what really happened," Jarrod Otta said.

And the Otta's are happy with the city's response. Friday night a city worker was out on the ice testing the air shortly after the Zamboni finished its rounds. The city is also going to permanently install carbon monoxide meters to constantly test the air levels.

"I do feel much better about it. I want to know what they will continue to do to ensure the safety of our kids, so when the real season kicks up in the fall for the hockey players and figure skaters we can feel at ease about sending our kids," Jake Otta's mom Betsy Otta said.

And now that they know what happened Jake Otta is ready to lace up his skates again.

"I think I'll be ready to go back next year."

The Sioux Falls Ice and Rec Center will shut down next week for the summer.

General Manager of the Ice and Rec Center Gary Weckwerth  told KELOLAND News Friday night that he's been working with the city all week long to find this problem.

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