One Dead, 8 Sickened During Hazmat Incident in California Hotel

By Paula Liu

One person died and eight had been sickened as a result of a hazmat incident at a hotel in California on Aug. 31, according to multiple reports.

Police said that they will be investigating the woman’s death as a possible suicide, according to Fox News. ABC News reported that the woman’s death was connected to the hazmat situation in the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose.

KTVU reported that the San Jose Police Department was investigating into the death of the woman, but have yet to figure out whether the deceased woman was a hotel staff or a guest at the hotel.

According to Fox News, the hotel staff contacted the police at around 10 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 30 when they smelled a chemical odor, which smelled similar to that of a rotten egg. The smell of the chemical made guests, as well as the staff at the hotel, feel faint, the news outlet reported. Some also reported being light-headed and short of breath.

Four floors of the hotel were evacuated during the investigation, and only the rooms on floors 17, 18, and 20 were reopened in the afternoon of Aug.31, while the 19th floor was undergoing decontamination, according to KTVU.

Gina Tepoorten, one of the San Jose police officers, held a press conference regarding the incident but did not go into detail, and did not elaborate about the circumstances of the woman who died at the hotel. According to the news outlet, one of the people who was injured is reportedly in a life-threatening situation.

San Jose Fire Dept. Captain Mitch Matlow said at the press conference that the over 120 hotel guests staying in 79 rooms were evacuated.

Matlow confirmed that there were chemicals present during the incident. CBS News reported that the fire department initially thought it would be sulfur, considering that the staff had smelled an odor that resembled that of a rotten egg.

“We do know there are liquids on the floor in the room and on the counter in the room. We don’t know if those are mouthwash or if those are the hazardous chemicals. Every single puddle that’s in the room is going to have to be tested,” Matlow said, according to CBS News.

The fire department officials said there was only a brief moment of exposure to the chemicals.

“The chemicals that cause the problem will not create and issue for guests when they first smell it,” Matlow said, KTVU reported.

According to KTVU, the remaining eight people who were sick from the hazmat situation were in a non-life threatening situation. Matlow said that two of the people injured were guests, while the others were hotel staff.

Matlow also said that there were other people who also showed light symptoms of exposure, but they got better after getting some fresh air, Fox News reported.

At 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 31, the hazmat team left the hotel after conducting tests in the hotel and handing the results over to the San Jose Police Department for further investigation, according to CBS News. The investigation into the woman who was found deceased in the hotel is still ongoing.