Niles hotel survivors speak out after poolside poisoning, remembering Bryan Watts
Three of the survivors of the Niles hotel poolside poisoning are speaking out, after a broken pool heater killed their cousin and friend.
Shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday morning, a group of cousins and friends went to the pool for a swim at the Quality Inn and Suites.
What they didn't know, is that the heater was leaking deadly carbon monoxide at levels 16 times higher than what is deemed toxic.
The carbon monoxide killed 13-year-old Bryan Douglas Watts, and sent seven other children to the hospital for treatment.
"We couldn't breathe. Our chest, our stomach was hurting. Some of them fell, they passed out," says Lawrence Slaughter, a 13-year-old survivor of the poisoning.
Slaughter, Dimetrius Butler, and Jason Lane, all 13 and 14 years old, painfully recall the moments that changed their lives forever.
"We was all in the pool. The pool was really cold, and I got out really fast," remembers Butler. "All I remember is me passing out and hitting my head."
The three boys were among the many taken to nearby hospitals Saturday morning.
Butler doesn't remember much, except waking up in the ambulance.
"I was thinking, like, what am I doing here? What happened?" he recalls.
It started off as a fun spring break, until the boys remember feeling a little sick Friday evening while swimming.
But they didn't tell anyone.
"I just went along with it. I thought it was just me," says Butler.
It was Saturday morning that the carbon monoxide levels, at 16 times the safe exposure limit, made their deadly impact. '
Sunday, the last leg of the boys' spring break, spent remembering their loved one.
Friends and family gathered in the parking lot of the hotel, launching balloons and adding to the memorial already set up by the entrance sign. A sign that advertises the indoor pool where Watts lost his life.
"This is our last memory of him. Last time seeing him," says Slaughter. "We all had a good time before he passed."
Yet, in the midst of their mourning, the young teens are grateful for the first responders who saved their lives.
"They could have died themselves from trying to save our lives," adds Slaughter. "And they were in the hospital themselves."
They are the ones who helped give the boys another chance at life.
"Just to see another day," he says simply.