Ithaca, N.Y. — The owners of an Ithaca apartment complex have promised to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance for the 16 people who went to the hospital in a carbon monoxide leak last week.

Omni New York said in an email Monday that the CO leak at the West Village Apartments on the city’s west side was caused by a group of young people who were trying to scale a railing.

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While not taking responsibility for the leak, Omni New York said the company “will reimburse any out of pocket hospital expenses that are not covered under a tenant’s health insurance policies.”

What happened

Around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, firefighters were called to the 600 block of Chestnut Street for a report of a malfunctioning boiler.

There, they detected high levels of the colorless, odorless, dangerous gas. The apartments were ventilated as Bangs Ambulance took five people to the Cayuga Medical Center for treatment, according to Lt. Thomas Basher of the Ithaca Fire Department.

Firefighters took measurements in the building that showed CO levels of over 300 parts per million, Basher said.

A total of 16 people would eventually seek treatment at the Cayuga Medical Center, according to John Turner, CMC spokesperson.

Surveillance footage later revealed that “the leak was caused when some youth were seen climbing a railing and using the exhaust pipe as a foothold,” according to Omni New York.

Property management’s response

The statement from Omni New York released Monday said that the West Village property management was “pleased that there were no serious issues following the carbon monoxide leak.”

“We repaired the pipe the moment we knew of the break, and issued a new set of guidelines to be better informed, and to help tenants be better informed of CO2 (sic – throughout – the property manager meant CO) leaks before they become problems,” said Arleigh Hardy, of the NYC-based Omni New York that runs the West Village Apartments. (Omni New York is co-owned by Mo Vaughn, a former MLB first baseman who played for the New York Mets.)

Hardy said that Omni New York will be issuing a new set of guidelines to help tenants be better informed of carbon monoxide leaks “before they become problems.”

“When a CO2 detector’s alarm would ring, some tenants would disconnect it before taking readings,” Hardy wrote. “Now, management will take readings before changing batteries and we issued a letter to tenants asking them to be more aware of the displays on the units.”

“While we are grateful that no one suffered any injuries, we are aware of the seriousness of CO2 leaks and will continue to educate our tenants.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.