Bryan Douglas-Watts' mother speaks publicly for the first time
The mother of Bryan Douglas-Watts spoke publicly for the first time Friday. Her 13-year-old son died after suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning in April at the Niles Quality Inn and Suites.
Now, she and five other victims have filed a lawsuit against the Quality Inn and Suites, the Niles franchisee, and Choice Hotels International, Inc.
Their lawyer, Ven Johnson, said the pool heater’s malfunction that led to the carbon monoxide leak was “predictable, preventable, and easily avoidable.”
Bryan Douglas-Watts’ mom wants to make sure no other parent has to share her pain.
"I would be taking pictures for him to go to prom, when he turned 16, when he graduated from and go to college or whatever it is that he wanted to do with his future, not because of a carbon monoxide detector or carbon monoxide law wasn't here,” said Bryan’s mother, Paula Watts.
Her 13-year-old son died on April 1 after getting carbon monoxide poisoning at the Niles Quality Inn and Suites' pool.
"OSHA--Occupational Safety and Health Administration--allows 50 parts per million. In that first floor area, where the pool I told you was 800 parts per million, so 16 times greater,” said Ven Johnson.
At this point in time, Michigan law only requires hotels built after December 1, 2009 to install carbon monoxide detectors, which exempts the Niles Quality Inn.
Lawyer Ven Johnson says that's unacceptable.
"You have an obligation to make sure you reasonably inspect your property to make sure it's safe, and one of the very things you would do is if you have carbon monoxide emitting devices, heaters, furnaces, pool heaters,” he said.
He claims the hotel was negligent in its duty to protect kids like Bryan, who loved going to the pool.
"What hurts the most is that for him to not be here anymore due to something so simple as a carbon monoxide detector not working or whatever the case is, and that he can't do what he loved to do, which was swimming,” said Paula.
As Paula Watts continues to mourn the premature passing of her son, she says her memories help her make it through the day.
"He loved his friends, even people he didn't know. He was kind. For a thirteen-year-old, he was very wise. He loved football. Football was his favorite sport. He used to tell me all the time, Mom, I want to be an NFL player…Everybody loved his spirit. He was very, very special,” said Bryan’s mother.
The victims are suing for an amount in excess of $75,000.
One legislator proposed a bill back in 2007 that would have required carbon monoxide detectors in all buildings, but the bill's major opponents argued it was too expensive to install them.
For a frame of reference, a typical detector costs about $30 and lasts around five to seven years.
The next step in this lawsuit is serving the defendants.
Stay with ABC 57 for the latest details.