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SF Hockey Player Remembers Suffering Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

February 11, 2014, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

SF Hockey Player Remembers Suffering Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The open space of an ice arena is one of the few places people would think to consider the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, but for Jake Otta and his family, that all changed in May 2011.

"I remember halfway through the practice, everybody started to get really tired. We were scrimmaging and there wasn't a lot of people that day, so I thought it was just, like, you're tired, but there was just a little more than that," Otta said.

What he didn't know at the time is that the exhaust from the zamboni plus faulty building fans created a trap for toxic carbon monoxide gas. The entire team was in serious danger.

"I remember everybody just laying down on the ice, you were just laying down, you weren't even playing anymore. I just got to the point where you just wanted to lay down and try to get all your energy back, but you couldn't," Otta said.

The gas latches onto red blood cells and cuts out the oxygen circulating in the body, which is why the players were getting tired.

"I remember my eyesight, I remember one time I looked up and I could hardly see anything just because I thought I was so tired. I could hardly see the net on the other side of the ice, it was terrible," Otta said.

Otta went to the hospital to get treated for the poisoning, and the next time he took the ice, more things were going through his mind besides scoring a goal.

"I kind of tried to pay a little more attention to it. I remember looking at the zamboni to make sure it was ok, looking at the fans to make sure they were open. I was hesitating a little bit," Otta said.

Now that he's 15, he still plays the sport he loves, but with a bigger understanding of a silent and odorless danger.

"If I ever get into that situation again and I get tired that easily, I'd know carbon monoxide might have to do with it. I might know to get off the ice next time instead of trying to play through it," Otta said.

Very soon after this incident in 2011, the rec center fixed the issues that led to the poisoning and nothing like this has happened since.

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