PHOENIX - Investigators said a hidden danger inside a bathroom at a McDonald's in southeast Georgia killed a woman and knocked another customer unconscious. Several others had to be taken to the hospital.
Investigators initially thought cleaning chemicals may have been to blame for the Sept. 7 incident until they got an unexpected call from here in the Valley.
“It was actually a call from City of Phoenix, Arizona fire department that had a similar incident in May of this year. They actually contacted us, kind of started us down that path. It was another thing we were looking at but kind of sped us up and moved us in that direction,” said Pooler Fire Chief Wade Simmons.
That call from Phoenix fire investigator Jonathan Hill ended up giving Simmons and his investigators the answers they were looking for.
“I just felt the need to call the Chief of the Pooler Fire Department [and] let him know what we experienced because it sounds eerily similar to what we experienced three months ago with our guys,” said Hill.
In May, a pregnant woman and two firefighters had to be taken to the hospital after getting sick at a Phoenix McDonald's near 24th Street and Osborn Road.
Turns out, investigators believe a tank used for the soda machine malfunctioned which caused a carbon dioxide leak in both cases and possibly in a handful of other cases as well.
“You're looking at approximately six to seven that are documented that we can find that have been what you would deem as a serious event,” said Hill.
Hill tells ABC15 cases are starting to become more common because many companies are using bigger tanks because it's more cost effective and workers don't have to refill them as much.
But Hill admits he is worried convenience could be risking customer safety.
“The potential for these tanks to cause some harm and death is very high if they're not maintained correctly,” said Hill.
In response to the incident in Arizona and Georgia, McDonald's issued a statement saying:
We have safety protocols in place for all of our restaurants. While this was an isolated set of circumstances, we are investigating this situation and reviewing our procedures, as well as those of our suppliers, to ensure the highest safety of our restaurants.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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