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Faulty Water Heater Pipe Blamed for Deadly Monoxide Leak

<p>A manager at Legal Sea Foods restaurant died and more than two dozen others were sent to hospitals after the leak.</p>
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/ Source: The Associated Press

A faulty water heater flue pipe caused the carbon monoxide leak that led to a restaurant manager's death at a New York mall and sent more than two dozen people to hospitals.

Huntington Chief Fire Marshal Terence McNally told The Associated Press the fumes were circulated in the basement by the ventilation systems at the Legal Sea Foods restaurant at the Walt Whitman Shops on Long Island.

Restaurant manager Steven Nelson, 55, was found dead in the basement on Saturday night.

McNally said Sunday the restaurant was inspected last March, and no problems found. Another inspection was scheduled for next month.

The company has been issued a citation for defective equipment. McNally says the flue pipe will have to be repaired before the restaurant can re-open.

Suffolk County Police Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick said the initial call to police came shortly after 6 p.m. about a woman who had fallen and hit her head in the basement of Legal Sea Foods.

Rescue workers who arrived at the scene started to feel lightheaded and nauseated and suspected a carbon monoxide leak, Fitzpatrick said.

Police evacuated the restaurant and found Nelson unconscious in the basement.

The woman who fell was taken to Huntington Hospital, as was Nelson, who was pronounced dead there. There was no immediate word on the woman's condition.

Authorities said 27 people were taken to five area hospitals. Fitzpatrick said none appeared to have life-threatening injuries.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and can lead to death by suffocation.

In addition to Legal Sea Foods, two other restaurants were evacuated as a precaution, even as the mall remained open.

-The Associated Press