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Hockey Dad: CO Alarms Didn't Go Off

May 18, 2011, 9:55 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Hockey Dad: CO Alarms Didn't Go Off
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Wednesday night a group of hockey players were back on the ice after several team members got sick at the rink from carbon monoxide. 

Four hockey players went to the hospital after a practice at the Sioux Falls Ice and Recreation Center Monday. Parents tell KELOLAND News all of them tested positive for high-levels of carbon monoxide.

Gary Weckwerth, the manager of the facility and CEO of the Sioux Falls Stampede, isn't sure what caused the sickness but says two Stampede coaches also were ill. He says they went through all of their usual procedures Monday but didn't find any problems.

"We had a group of 100 kids, sixth graders, out here this (Wednesday) morning, not a problem. Since we've been managing the facility since 1999 never had a problem," Weckwerth said.

High levels of carbon monoxide are typically caused by the propane-powered Zamboni which smooths the ice. 

The dad who organized the practice Monday night says all 14 players in his group had some symptoms from the carbon monoxide in the air. It was even enough to keep three of the players away from the Wednesday night practice because they were concerned about the levels.

"By the time we got into the locker room everyone was saying they had headaches," hockey dad Neal Duehr said as he recalled the Monday night incident. "Some of them were just having a hard time getting undressed because they couldn't bend over and undo their skates cause their heads were pounding so bad."

Duehr organized the practice session, his son and nephew were two of the four who were taken to the emergency room after they got off the ice. 

"They put our two right on 100 percent oxygen right away because we told them we expected it to be carbon monoxide because they were feeling fine before we started," Duehr said.

Even after being on oxygen for a half hour blood tests showed his son and nephew had 14.5 parts per million of carbon monoxide. At 20 parts per million they start vomiting, at 30 they pass out.

Duehr said the most concerning thing is that the carbon monoxide detectors in the building never went off.

"The scary part was if they've got carbon monoxide detectors they didn't go off. If the Stampede guys, the coaches, were getting sick in their offices obviously something should have been going off somewhere," Duehr said.

Duehr said he and his players were back Wednesday night because the group that runs the facility said they would be turning the fans on more often and work to ventilate the rink better. But, he does say he's going to be more aware of the symptoms on the ice. 

"Even when I travel to other rinks I'm going to be paying attention a little bit more to it now that it's happened," Duehr said.

Deuhr himself said he had a headache and muscle aches and didn't start feeling better until noon Wednesday.

Officials say they plan to look into better ways to circulate the air in the ice rink when it shuts down for the summer.

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