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Manager killed, 27 injured after carbon monoxide fills NY mall restaurant

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The manager of a Long Island restaurant was killed Saturday night and 27 other people were hospitalized after carbon monoxide filled the eatery at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington Station, Suffolk County police said Feb. 23.

Emergency rescuers were called to Legal Sea Foods around 6 p.m. Saturday for a report that a woman had fallen and hit her head in the basement. In a news release, officials said arriving police officers began to feel nauseous and dizzy and evacuated the building after recognizing the effects as a carbon monoxide incident. First responders evacuated Legal Sea Food, as well as a Panera Bread and Cheesecake Factory, in the immediate vicinity.

After the evacuation, police found the manager of Legal Sea Foods, Steven Nelson, 55, of Copiague, unconscious in the basement. He was pronounced dead after ambulance crews rushed him to Huntington Hospital.

“We're devastated by the news of the carbon monoxide poisoning at Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington, NY,” Legal Sea Foods said in a statement posted on Twitter. “We are profoundly saddened to learn of the tragic death of our General Manager Steve Nelson. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,”

Police said 27 other victims, including four emergency rescuers and three police officers, were taken to five local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after reporting feeling symptoms related to carbon monoxide exposure, authorities said. Most of the victims, authorities said, were restaurant employees.

Town of Huntington officials are conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the carbon monoxide exposure. The town's chief fire marshal said Sunday that a pipe leading to one of the restaurant's water hearers failed, which caused the noxious fumes to fill the basement.

As of Sunday afternoon, the restaurant was ordered “condemned” by building inspectors and it was unclear when the building would be permitted to reopen.

Police said homicide and arson detectives are also investigating.

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