Mar 24, 2009

Carbon Monoxide poisoning afflicts athletes and spectators at nationals

by Thomas Lourdeau

It is not uncommon for collegiate athletes to feel fatigued towards the end of a long season, but the widespread sickness the Liberty men’s hockey team experienced during its ACHA Championships two weeks ago was far from normal.

The Flames had heard before their scheduled game against Robert Morris that members of the Ohio State team had mentioned feeling sick after the game. By the second period, members of both the Flames and Robert Morris began to feel ill.

Spectators inside the arena also reported feeling nauseous.

“We definitely knew something was up. A lot of our guys were really out of it,” freshman forward Colton Crossley told the News & Advance.

The symptoms were caused by carbon monoxide. The gas is odorless and colorless, making it difficult to detect. When inhaled for long periods, it can cause a variety of symptoms including headaches, nausea, hallucinations, vomiting and even death if not treated.

According to Consumer Public Safety Commission, carbon monoxide poisoning kills an average of 170 people per year.

The gas is said to have built up due to poor ventilation and a malfunction in equipment used by the arena. Motorized vehicles used to smooth the ice between periods emit carbon monoxide. With proper ventilation, the gas poses no threat.

The Flames gutted out a 6-2 victory over Robert Morris and returned to their hotel rooms where emergency crews examined them and first detected the cause. Players who required medical attention due to exposure to the gas were immediately sent to the hospital and treated.
Several members of the team reported feeling queasy the following day, but everyone returned to normal within 48 hours.

The Gates Mills Fire Department released an official statement that indicated the problem had been corrected, and the arena posed no further problems.

The Flames dropped their next game to No. 1 seed Lindenwood in the semifinals of the ACHA playoffs, by a score of 5-1. Liberty finished the 2008-2009 season ranked inside the top-10 in the ACHA, finishing at No. 9. Lindenwood finished No. 1 atop the standings en route to winning the ACHA Men’s Division I National Championship.

Contact Thomas Lourdeau at


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