Mike Bodker, the mayor of Johns Creek, told Channel 2 that the Fulton County Health Department is leading the investigation.
Photo: WSBTV
Photo: WSBTV

Chlorine overloads pump at Johns Creek pool, sending kids to hospital

The Fulton County Health Department has concluded its investigation into an incident Tuesday night at a local pool in Johns Creek that injured more than two dozen people.

A spokesperson for the Fulton County Health Department told the AJC that one of its “environmental health specialists” investigated the incident on Wednesday. In its investigation, the department found that there was an issue with a pump on the pool. At one point, the pump brought in too much oxygen and spit out too much chlorine into the pool, the health department said.

According to a police report, this happened around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night at an outdoor pool at Life Time Fitness, when 28 children, ages 10 to 13 were in the pool for a swim meet. Many of them experienced vomiting, shortness of breath and burns. At least 11 children were sent to area hospitals, while others were treated at the scene.

The health department added that all chemical levels in the pool were normal on Wednesday, but the department will “continue to follow-up” with Life Time Fitness. The pool was reopened Wednesday afternoon, as a Channel 2 Action News helicopter spotted people swimming in it.

Five children were treated for injuries related to the chlorine mixer malfunction at Emory Johns Creek Hospital. They were “treated and discharged” on Wednesday, a hospital spokesperson said.

Six other patients were taken to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital in Sandy Springs, but a spokesperson for the hospital couldn’t say if they had been released.

BACKGROUND | 8 kids taken to hospital after pool chlorine malfunction in Johns Creek

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According to a police report from Tuesday’s incident, a Life Time Fitness employee noticed a “small lime green” area in the bottom of the pool and then saw that area grow and pop up in three more places. The employee told the children to exit the pool and then “smelled something rotten” in the air.

One man who was in the pool with the children described the scene to Channel 2 as “chaotic” and said he was “choking” and had “shortness of breath.”

According to the AJC’s database of state data for public swimming pool inspections, the outdoor pool at Life Time Fitness was cited for a violation in 2013 for “chemical feeders not functioning properly.” Since then and through 2017, the pool has not been cited for any violations.

The spokesperson for the Fulton County Health Department said the pool was last inspected in late June and received a score of 99 out of 100.

Life Time Fitness gave Channel 2 a brief statement Tuesday night saying, “This evening, our team responded to an issue that led to the evacuation and closure of our outdoor pool area. This evacuation was implemented quickly and with the safety of our members and team members in minds. Additionally, local authorities were engaged to support the evacuation and provide assistance to members and guests, as needed. The pool will remain closed while we review the issue.”

A general manager for Life Time Fitness did not respond to calls from the AJC on Wednesday.

Life Time Fitness has 151 locations across the United States, including five in Georgia.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that people exposed to chlorine may experience blurred vision, burning pain, redness, coughing, chest tightness, fluid in the lungs, nausea, vomiting, wheezing and burning sensations in the nose, throat and eyes.

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A total of 28 kids between the ages of 10 and 12, were at the pool for a swim meet.

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