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Two Charged in Deadly Hyperbaric Chamber Fire in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

Posted on May 1, 2012

After a three year investigation, the Broward Sheriff’s Office has announced that it is making arrests in connection with a 2009 hyperbaric chamber explosion and fire that killed a 4-year-old boy and his 62-year-old grandmother.

BSO officials indicated that the 51 year-old safety director and the 81-year-old doctor who runs the clinic would be charged with manslaughter.

The accident occurred on May 1, 2009. The youth had been brought to the clinic from Italy by his grandmother for a cerebral palsy treatment. They had been in the chamber for about 20 minutes when a spark ignited the pure oxygen in the chamber. It is estimated that the flames burned for five minutes before the chamber was depressurized and opened.

The investigation into the accident revealed a litany of equipment and procedural failures too numerous to list.

After the fire, investigators discovered that the chamber had not been ground properly and that other chambers at the jam-packed facility had burnt and exposed wires. Extension cords had been taped together near oxygen lines.

Even more disturbing was the finding that the two victims were not wearing grounding bracelets to prevent static electricity and were wearing flammable clothing. The investigation also revealed that no operator had been present when the chamber went up in flames and that the chamber’s internal intercom system was not functioning, so the victims couldn’t call out for help.

A Florida State Fire Marshall detective concluded that the fire was the result of “gross negligence.”

After the 2009 accident, the doctor re-opened the clinic under a new name.

If you have lost a loved one due to negligence, you should hold the liable parties responsible for their actions. A Farah & Farah Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorney can guide you through this often complex process. Call us at (800) 533-3555 so we can discuss your case today.