Owatonna Holiday Inn Pool Closed Amid Health Scare

Posted at: 03/11/2014 6:33 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Swollen eyes, vomiting and rashes are just a few complaints from guests who recently used the pool at the Holiday Inn in Owatonna.


Tonight the hotel's pool and water park remain closed. The Department of Health is trying to figure out what may have caused those problems.


One local family says their children were hurting after a trip to the pool.


"Just sitting around the pool we were sneezing and getting stuffy,” said Kristin Stevens of Le Roy. She took her two kids and a friend to the Owatonna Holiday Inn water park over the weekend. While most of the day was spent having fun in the water, the birthday party ended unexpectedly.


"They were rubbing their eyes after they got out of the show and then it just came on fast,” said Stevens.


Redness on the cheeks kicked in, as well as burning eyes and throat. "She just screamed it burned it burned,” said Stevens. Even a bad cough and sneezing started up not long after drying off.


"My daughter's friend threw up, so I’m like ok time to do something,” said Stevens.


Kristin let the front desk know, "We weren't the first complaint,” she said. They reassured her all the chemicals in the pool were testing fine. "I’m like this isn't normal, all the symptoms that my kids had, everybody else had,” said Stevens.


In a statement released Tuesday, the Holiday Inn Hotel in Owatonna says the safety, comfort and well-being of their guests and employees is a top priority and concern. They are cooperating with the Minnesota Department of Health on its investigation. As the investigation is ongoing, they have temporarily closed our water park facilities, and are unable to comment further at this time.


Officials with the Minnesota Department of Health say the pool levels were a bit off, but partly because the hotel shut down the pool when it realized there was a problem. The Department of Health also tells ABC 6 News, there have been no other complaints reported at this location going back to 2008. But that it has shut down the pool twice because of high levels of chlorine. The latest shutdown was in January of this year.


As for Kristin Stevens, “I’d be a little nervous about going back,” Stevens said. She just hopes the investigation turns up whatever caused the children's apparent water related illness. "I'm sure it can happen anywhere, but I mean it's kind of scary,” said Stevens.


The Department of Health says it expects to have the test results on the pool by Wednesday or Thursday.