Hockey rink’s air system fails, sickening 54

The Grand Valley Mavs pee-wee hockey team was actually lucky it had to play on an outdoor hockey rink last weekend in Gunnison.

The Gunnison Valley Hockey Association had a tournament scheduled for the indoor ice arena, so the 12-under team played outdoors.

The indoor rink’s ventilation system failed, causing 54 people to become sick with various levels of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Eight people were hospitalized in serious condition, including two who were taken to Denver for hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment. The six treated at Gunnison Valley Health Hospital have been released.

Gunnison Fire Marshal Dennis Spritzer told The Associated Press on Monday that an ice-cleaning machine was the source of the carbon monoxide.

The Grand Valley Mavs are without home ice because Glacier Ice Arena is closed, forcing the youth teams to play all of their games on the road.

The peewee team had four games in Gunnison.

“No one was affected,” Ice Skating Inc. President Curt Maki said. “We managed to dodge that one.”

Maki said the Mavs’ final game last weekend against Telluride was scheduled for the indoor rink. When the team arrived, the rink had been evacuated and ambulances surrounded the arena.

“By the time we got there, the damage was already done,” Maki said.

Gunnison is scheduled to host the Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League peewee finals on March 5–6, and Maki said he expects the rink to be available by then.

The indoor arena, owned by the city of Gunnison, didn’t have carbon monoxide detectors installed, but Spritzer said they would be installed before the 3-year-old rink reopens.


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