Tip Line: 574-344-5557 | news57@abc57.com

MI state senator pushing for more CO legislation

NILES, Mich. - Eight months after the fatal carbon monoxide poisoning at the Niles Quality Inn, one Michigan state senator discusses new CO legislation he's trying to push through.

On April 1, 2017, 15 people, including some first responders, were poisoned in or around the pool in the Quality Inn.

13-year-old Bryan Douglas-Watts died.

As the victims try to move on, lawmakers are working to make sure no other families have to suffer the same fate.

Michigan State Senator Steve Bieda sponsored the original law in Michigan requiring new hotels to be wired for carbon monoxide detectors.

That bill was passed in 2008 and enacted in January of '09.

Now, he's working to expand on his work from 10 years ago.

“Actually before this tragedy occurred in Niles, had statutory changes already in a bill form that I was going to be introducing, and that would have required them to retrofit older facilities, particularly if they were near a pool or heating room or furnace room, which his often times the main cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, so that bill was introduced this session as Senate Bill 379," said Senator Bieda.

He says he hasn't had a hearing yet on this bill.

In the meantime, the senator says Michigan building code standards were just changed to require hotels constructed prior to 2008 to install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in their rooms.

Senator Bieda says the main opposition is and has always been from hotel lobbyists, who say the cost is too high.

"If you look at the struggles for putting and requiring smoke detectors and requiring airbags in cars and other safety restraints, there is a tipping point, it becomes public knowledge. It becomes a public campaign, and people as they fully understand the scope of the problem and severity of the issue, I think you see more and more people saying yeah it makes sense that we do this," he said.

The mother of 13-year-old Bryan Douglas-Watts says it should be a no-brainer to require CO detectors in all hotels, and she won't stop until there's a law requiring it.

“I refuse to let another person lose their life over carbon monoxide detectors not working in their home, not working in the hotel, not working anywhere where a person lay their head. It don’t feel good losing a child. Bryan didn’t lose his life to someone in the streets; he didn’t lose his self to some harm, he didn’t lose himself to stupidity, he lost his life to something that should have been done a long time ago," said Paula Watts.

Right now, she's still pushing ahead with the lawsuit she filed eight months back.

“As the months go on, I feel someone needs to be held accountable for the actions that had been made. As I stated then, if there was a carbon monoxide detector, I’d be celebrating Bryan’s birthday with him this year. If there was on their job and doing what they’re supposed to have been doing, I would be celebrating Bryan’s birthday with him this year," said Paula.

Bryan's birthday is on Christmas Eve.

Paula sat down exclusively with ABC 57's Jess Arnold to discuss how she's handling the holidays, her son;s approaching birthday, and the lawsuit.

Tune into ABC 57 News at 5 p.m. for that full story.


Share this article: