One dead, 8 sick in California hotel hazardous materials incident treated as chemical suicide

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One person has died and at least eight others fell ill in a hazardous materials incident at a California hotel over the weekend that is under investigation for suicide, police said.

San Jose Police Officer Gina Tepoorten confirmed the nature of the investigation at a press conference on Sunday, declining to go into details on the circumstances surrounding the death of an adult woman at the Fairmont hotel in San Jose the morning before. One of the injured is said to be in danger of death.

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Hotel staff called police around 10 a.m. on Saturday to report a foul chemical order, similar to that of a rotten egg, that had left customers and employees feeling faint, dizzy and short of breath.

Firefighters gather on Market Street outside the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose, California after a report of a chemical odor on Saturday, August 31, 2019.
(Nico Savidge / San Jose Mercury News via AP)

San Jose Fire Department captain Mitch Matlow said 79 rooms, with more than 120 guests, were evacuated after a chemical odor was detected on the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th floors, KTVU reported .

The fire department’s hazardous materials team responded to the scene where officials said exposure to the chemical was considered “very brief.”

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Matlow said immediately after the incident that the eight sick people would be hotel employees. Several other people had minor symptoms but “got better with fresh air.”

Officials said on Sunday they were able to identify the chemicals involved, but declined to give further details, citing the police investigation.

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The name of the deceased will be released after notification to the next of kin, police said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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