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Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

A week ago yesterday we took our children to their long-awaited and much anticipated 6th grade camp in a rural community outside of Guadalajara. We dropped them off, wished them an amazing time, smothered them in hugs and kisses and told them we would be back on Monday afternoon to pick them up and return home to Nayarit as a family.

My husband Frank and I were excited for them and excited for us as we were going to take advantage of them being in good hands and have ourselves a mini-vacation in nearby Lake Chapala, an area of Mexico we had yet to discover in our now nearly five years as permanent residents.

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

6th Grade Camp Drop-off, 30 Minutes Outside of Lake Chapala

Read TripAdvisor Reviews with Caution

After extensive research on Tripadvisor and Facebook as to what were the best hotels in the Lake Chapala area, we settled on Hotel Villa San Francisco. Looking at their five-star ratings and photos, we liked what we saw and certainly didn’t see anything that would make us question the legitimacy of it being a safe place for my husband and I to stay for the weekend.

We reserved a terraza room (Hollywood) with a view of the lake, thinking we would splurge a bit on this couples only weekend. But at the last minute, the manager Jorge notified us via phone that due to their overbooking that they would need to relocate us to a different, ground-level room (Barroca) at Hotel Villa San Francisco for Thursday and Friday night and then place us at the owner’s personal home/Airbnb Villa Wilshire rental in Ajijic for Saturday night. Although we were initially told by the manager Jorge that we would have the terrazza room at Villa Wilshire in Ajijic for Saturday night, they again needed to move us to a different, ground-level room due to overbooking.

If Frank and I agreed to all of these various room changes, they would “gift to us” a full breakfast instead of the normally included continental one and then put us in our originally desired Hollywood room on Sunday night back at Hotel Villa San Francisco for a reduced rate.

Below is the email I received from one of the Hotel Villa San Francisco staff members informing us in writing of the room change for Saturday night and the full breakfast and discounted Sunday at Hotel Villa San Francisco in exchange for our acceptance of these multiple changes.

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Overbooking & Room Changes @ Hotel Villa San Francisco

Being that it was labor day weekend and that we could not find any other available rooms in either Lake Chapala nor nearby Ajijic, we agreed to these various changes to secure a reservation.

After walking around downtown Lake Chapala and grabbing a bite to eat on this Thursday night after camp drop-off, Frank and I made our way back to the hotel room to get some much-needed rest after our five-hour drive from our home in Nayarit.

Although we were very much looking forward to a hot shower before calling it a night, there was no hot water and so a quick cold one it was. The following morning, Frank showered prior to us leaving the room to have our breakfast on the veranda at Hotel Villa San Francisco and still, no hot water. Clearly, there was something going on with the hot water heater that serviced that Barroca Room.

It was here at breakfast on Friday morning when we first saw the manager Jorge and informed him of the lack of hot water in our bathroom. He told us that “the wind had blown out the hot water heater the night before” and that they would “light it and monitor it throughout the day”.

Monitor? How about maintenance by a certified technician?

We were not particularly smitten with this Barroca Room they had put us in—not just because there was no hot water but also because it was very dark, not what one would consider as being clean (hairs on the bathroom floor not our own) and had a foul smell coming from the shower—so we had requested upon checking in and seeing its conditions, for them to please move us to another room if it became available. The young female receptionist I spoke with on Thursday afternoon regarding this hoped-for room change said she would need to run it by the manager Jorge for an answer on Friday morning.

(*of note, after watching each of the four Hotel Villa San Francisco YouTube videos and submitting a summary and article link below each of them, in not one of them did I see nor recognize the Barroca Room. My opinion, based on the marked difference in the Barroca room’s presentation/aesthetics compared to all of the other rooms shown on the videos, is that Barroca was either an out of service room or one only used for staff or as a storage area…thus the likelihood of the manager/owners having haphazardly attached a temporary, smaller, not properly serviced (and deadly) water heater directly outside of the window on an overbooked weekend.)

We Addressed Our Concerns with Manager

When we informed the manager Jorge on this Friday morning at breakfast about the lack of hot water in Room Barroca and also reminded him that we would still like to be moved to a different room, he went on and on about how it would take at least 20 minutes for the hot water to get back to us in that part of the hotel (Room Safari) that we hoped would be an upgrade from Barroca. Jorge stated that he and his wife lived in that back area of the hotel by Room Safari and how if she were doing dishes, we might not have much hot water or that we would have to wait quite some time for it. We assured Jorge that we would rather have some hot water rather than no hot water. While Jorge didn’t seem so supportive of our request to move from Room Barroca to Room Safari for Friday night, we assured him that we wanted to.

We were told by Jorge that we could move into Room Safari after the current guests left and the room was cleaned. We did ask if we could please see Safari prior to packing up our stuff, and even without it having been cleaned yet from the previous guests, the room, based on aesthetics alone, was so much nicer than the dark, dirty Barroca room we had spent our first night in. We were looking forward to the move even though this put us in a different room for each of four nights.

The two gentlemen that were due to leave this Safari room were also having breakfast on the veranda at the same time we were, and having overheard this hot water conversation with Jorge, came up to our table to assure us that they had had PLENTY of hot water in the Safari Room that we would be moving into.

Frank and I had a lovely breakfast together this Friday morning, enjoying our time and conversation together as a couple. It is very difficult for me to look at the following picture, knowing that it could have been our last meal together.

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Breakfast @ Hotel Villa San Francisco

I mentioned to Frank that I should go to the Barroca Room to get my laptop to get some work done outside on the veranda while we waited for the Safari Room to be cleaned and readied for us, but we instead decided to go back to the room so I could pack up our belongings while Frank got caught up on some work.

We headed back to Room Barroca around 11:00 a.m. and Frank proceeded to work on his laptop for the next three hours while I first showered and then alternated packing up our belongings and resting on the bed on the opposite side of the room, under a ceiling fan as I was beginning to feel like I was coming down with something with a sore throat, burning eyes and a headache. 

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Malfunctioning Water Heater on Other Side of Window

While we were at breakfast (and after having spoken with the manager Jorge about the lack of hot water), someone clearly must have come to relight/reignite the hot water heater because when I turned the shower on to hot, Frank—sitting down on the small table by the window—heard it “kick in” and called out to me telling me so and yes, I now had hot water.

It was at this point, with the malfunctioning hot water heater now ignited and on, that the activation and expelling of the carbon monoxide fumes clearly began. As Frank was sitting literally to the side of and above the water heater (no more than a foot away) that was outside and on the other side of the window, the CO fumes were coming directly into his respiratory system for 3 hours.

Thank God we didn’t ask to have it checked the night before as the outcome would certainly have been worse for both Frank and I after a full night of breathing in the carbon monoxide as we slept. Thank God our children were not with us. 

I told Frank that we should go wait outside in the garden while they finished the cleaning of the Safari room, that I was tired of being in a dark room on a bright sunny day. Our bags were all packed and we were ready to move them into the courtyard while we waited for the Safari room to be ready.

When Frank stood up from this small window table, now ready to move our belongings out to the patio, within 20 seconds or so of standing, he collapsed onto the bed, stating that he was having severe visual disturbances, nausea and a headache. His eyes were rapidly moving back and forth and he was having great difficulty focusing and responding to me.

Needless to say, I was terrified, not having any idea what was occurring other than that it was very serious.

Red Cross Arrives

Was he having a heart attack? Was he having a stroke? He had no chest pain and he was not exhibiting any of the symptoms of a stroke…in fact he had me hold both of his hands to see if his strength was equal on both sides (which it was) and asked me if his mouth was slanting, which it was not.  

I ran out to the hotel lobby in a panic and asked the front desk staff to call for emergency help. Running back and forth between the room to check on Frank and to the lobby to see if an ambulance had arrived yet, Frank’s symptoms continued to worsen. Within a few minutes, he had turned a grey/white color and was on the verge of losing consciousness. When the Red Cross arrived to the room and took his blood pressure, it was 190 over 90 which was clearly reason enough to transport him.

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Red Cross Transport to Guadalajara

With the Red Cross medics getting Frank on the gurney, I was grabbing any and all of our valuables that I could find and carry in that frightful moment. I went to the table where Frank had been sitting to get his laptop and saw right outside the window where he had been sitting, a smallish, on the ground, hot water heater—hissing and spewing yellow/orange colored flames. I hollered this out to Frank as we were leaving the room, “Oh my God Honey, there is a water heater right under where you were sitting!”

Once at the Red Cross in Lake Chapala, I phoned Hotel Villa San Francisco, asking to speak to the manager Jorge but was told that he was not there and that he had gone to Guadalajara. I told the male employee that answered the phone about my having just seen this yellow/orange flamed spewing water heater and that I suspected that it was the cause of Frank’s life-threatening symptoms.

Hotel Villa San Francisco’s Lack of Responsiveness

This Hotel Villa San Francisco representative CONFIRMED to me during this phone conversation that TWO CARBON MONOXIDE LEAKS had just been found by the person that had come out to look at it.

I asked them to please send someone from the Villa right away to the Red Cross to explain this to the doctor that was treating Frank, but no one from Hotel Villa San Francisco ever showed up. In fact, in the first 30 hours post carbon monoxide poisoning at Hotel Villa San Francisco, in spite of my multiple phone calls and emails amidst managing the critical care of my husband, NO ONE—not the manager nor the owners of Hotel Villa San Francisco responded to me nor reached out to offer a helping hand, nor to see if my husband was dead or alive.

It was only upon my telling both the manager Jorge and the owners (whose contact information I had to hunt down through their Airbnb profile) that I would go public with our story that I received the following email from the owner on Saturday, April 29th at 8:46 p.m.:

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

First Communications from Hotel Villa San Francisco Owner

I do find it interesting that an owner of a five-star hotel that serves so many guests did not have the ability to access both our phone and email information from the management when that very information was requested upon making our reservation. 

My response to the owner on Saturday, April 29th at 10:37 p.m:

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

*when I returned to HVSF to retrieve Frank’s truck and our belongings, they had removed the small water heater

When we arrived at the Lake Chapala Red Cross via ambulance on Friday afternoon, I was not allowed back into the room with Frank. I asked the doctor and staff to please allow me to be by my husband’s side, that not only was he not coherent enough to speak for himself, but that I needed to translate for him and explain the chronology of circumstances that led up to his symptoms.

After the confirmation by the hotel staff that indeed two carbon monoxide leaks had been detected in the hot water heater right outside the window where Frank had been sitting for three hours, I shared this information with the Red Cross Doctor and he allowed me to come be by Frank’s side.

Confirmed Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

It all made sense. Frank’s symptoms were every symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning—visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, blood pressure issues, confusion, headache, exhaustion, difficulty hearing and responding. The confirmation by the hotel of the two CO leaks, my sighting of the yellow/orange flamed water heater, Frank’s symptoms and the doctor’s diagnosis all matched up. Now we knew what we were dealing with. The Red Cross Doctor immediately ordered Frank to be transferred to a hospital in Guadalajara.

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Lake Chapala Red Cross

On Saturday afternoon April 29, 2017 at 12:08, I sent the manager Jorge the following email:

To:[email protected]” <[email protected]>

Sent: Saturday, April 29, 2017 12:08 PM

“Buenas tardes Jorge,

Como ya saben, mi esposo Frank se intoxicó con la fuga de monóxido carbón del calentador del agua. Los médicos siguen tratando de salvarle la vida. Necesito que me mandes de inmediato los datos de los dueños para ponerme en contacto con ellos. Siguen guardando las maletas y cuidando nuestra camioneta Ford 150 que está en la calle enfrente. Paso hoy para ellos.

Katie O’Grady

Los O’Gradys in Mexico

xxx-xxx-xxxx (my cell phone)


“Good afternoon Jorge,

As you all already know, my husband Frank was poisoned with the carbon monoxide gas leak from the hot water heater. The doctors are still working to save his life. I need you to immediately send to me the contact information of the owners so I can be in contact with them. Continue keeping the suitcases and an eye out for our Ford 150 that is on the street in front. I will come today for them.”

When I arrived at the hotel on this Saturday, I walked into Room Barroca to double check that none of our personal items were left behind, and guess what? They had removed the hot water heater that had been directly below the window just a day before. Gone, no longer there. 

Jorge and various other staff members were sitting in the courtyard right outside the Barroca Room, perhaps waiting for my arrival since I had notified Jorge that I would be coming up, and not one of them acknowledged what had happened, inquired as to whether or not my husband was dead or alive, offered an apology nor expressed any concern. Nothing.

I opened our suitcases to make sure everything was there and asked them to make a copy of our reservation showing that we had in fact stayed in and paid for that one night in Room Barroca (BB for Bella Barroca).

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

On Sunday, Apr 30 at 11:44 AM I received this message from who I am assuming to be Jorge since it was written in Spanish and came directly from the same email address he had used to correspond with me previously during the reservation process.

“Buenos dias.

Por favor acepte mis disculpas por todas las molestias incluyendo la demora a su contestacion, pero le aseguro que estamos muy preocupados, pero hemos estado ocupados realizando nuestras propios inspecciones e investigaciones con el fin de encontrar una explicacion a esto, le aseguro que nos comunicaremos con usted tan pronto nos sea posible.

Elegancia en la Ribera de Chapala

Hotel Villa San Francisco agradece su preferencia”


“Please accept my apologies for all of the bother including the delay in response to you, but I assure you that we are very concerned, but we have been busy doing our own inspections and investigations with the point of finding an explanation to this, I assure you that we will be in touch with you the soonest possible.”

On Monday, May 1, 2017 4:41 pm I heard from Anthony, one of the owners:

“Dear Katie,

You very much do deserve to be treated as kindly and as efficiently as possible, and I do acknowledge that it may not seem that that has been the case.  However, you may be assured that everything possible has been done from the perspective of the hotel. A huge part of the challenge has been that we are out of the country, and we are dealing with the cancer death of a close family member who was too young to have died.  This, plus other stresses too involved to detail here, have made things extra difficult. Further, being a holiday weekend in Mexico has made it especially difficult to get professional assistance.

That said, our main problem was the issue of carbon monoxide poisoning itself.  Given that we take great care to maintain our systems at full operating efficiency, I was quite stunned to learn of your husband’s apparent difficulty. It was only last month that we spent $6500 doing regular boiler maintenance, and replaced regulators, and did thorough cleanings. And in fact, in over 2000 nights of operations, with therefore 20,000 room nights of guests, such an issue has never once occurred. Furthermore, the boiler is many feet to the side of the window, and is in the complete open air, and in fact is operating perfectly, at least as far as Proteccion Civil has confirmed on being immediately asked to inspect on Friday.  Please understand that your use of the words “gross negligence” feels exceptionally harsh when measured against our actions, both recent and in the immediate aftermath of your husband’s very unfortunate incident.

You indicated that the water heater was suddenly “moved” by us! I can assure you that absolutely nothing was ever moved. It was placed there years ago, and is still there.

Katie, I am as anxious as you to be sure of what happened, but please understand that while my sympathy could not be greater, my genuine concern over the cause remains.  We are continuing to investigate, but it will be difficult during the holiday weekend.

I shall contact you when I have further information.  In the meantime,

Kind regards,

(name of male owner)”

My response to male owner on Monday, May 1, 2017 7:42 pm

“Hello Anthony,

Thank you for responding.

The fact of the matter is, there WAS a much smaller, gurgling, spitting, malfunctioning with orange flames single unit hot water heater directly outside the Barroca window looking DOWN directly onto the ground, NOT the one to the left where the larger hot water heater is.

When we checked in on Thursday night April 27, 2017 there was no hot water in the Barroca shower nor the following morning of April 28, 2017 when my husband showered prior to 10 a.m.

In fact, the condition of the Barroca room when we first entered, with hair on the bathroom floor not our own, an old failing mirror with poor visibility, run down shower doors and a foul smell from the shower, made us wonder if the room was only used for emergency over bookings or for your staff and therefore not maintained in a public rental standard.

We left the Barroca room for breakfast on the veranda on the morning of 4-28-17 where we spoke to Jorge about the cold evening and morning shower who stated that ‘”the wind had blown the pilot out” and that they would be “monitoring it throughout the day”….monitoring, not having an authorized technician check and fix it. He said he would keep us informed.

He then went into a lengthy explanation as to how the hot water would take a very very long time to get back to the Safari room where we were to be transferred to as soon as it was ready post cleaning.

We assured him we would rather have SOME hot water than NO hot water.

Jorge was doing his best to convince us to stay in Barroca but we assured him we wanted to be moved to a different room even if that meant we would literally be moving every single day of our 4 night stay due to the complications of overbooking on the part of your staff.

One of these nights was to be at your Villa Wilshire where we were told we would be placed on the terraza level, but again, due to overbooking, were moved to a ground level room.

We were offered a full breakfast instead of the continental and a reduced fee for our last night in Hollywood if we were to agree to the multiple room changes which we did.

Jorge went on to tell us about how he and his wife live in the back and that if she was doing dishes, there might not be hot water or that it could take up to 20 minutes for the hot water to get there and other various comments about hot water issues on site.

The 2 gentleman clients sitting at another table came up to assure us, in spite of Jorge’s narrative about the limited and long taking hot water in the Safari room, that in fact they had had plenty of hot water during their stay in Safari.

After breakfast, we went directly back to Barroca. When I turned on the shower to take my shower, my husband HEARD the small hot water heater ignite and begin to heat, as he was sitting right next to it at the table and window.

I then alternated between packing up our items and resting on the bed on the opposite side of the room/window under the ceiling fan.

My husband Frank did not move from the small table by the window where he worked on his laptop for nearly 3 hours, thus getting a direct hit from the carbon monoxide fumes coming in through the window.

When I phoned the Villa from the Red Cross on Friday April 28, 2017 at 3:28 pm, the male hotel representative that I spoke to on shift CONFIRMED that TWO carbon monoxide leaks had been found in the water heater and that they “had fixed it”.

I suppose the entire removal of the water heater constituted “fixing it”..???

I pleaded that they send someone from the villa to the Red Cross but NO ONE showed up. I was told during that phone call that Jorge was not on site, that he had gone to Guadalajara.

It is insignificant to me that this has not occurred in your previous 20,000 guests. What is significant to me is that this did happen to my husband.

Perhaps your manager Jorge can explain to you what alterations or problems they were having with this now removed small water heater when you were not in the country.

Lastly, there were NO actions taken in the “immediate aftermath” by you, Roseann, Jorge nor anyone representing Villa San Francisco. In fact MORE than 30 hours had passed when I finally heard from Roseann after stating to she and Jorge via email that I would bring our story to social media to inform and hopefully protect others.

With your being out of the country during the time of this incident, perhaps you are not aware of whatever modifications your manager Jorge did or did not do and/or communicate to you.

That is your responsibility as the owner.

I have provided you with sufficient information.

Tomorrow when I am more rested from this trauma I will put together the rest of the paperwork including copies of all expenses up together date.

Katie & Frank O’Grady

Los O’Gradys in Mexico”

On Monday, May 1, 2017 6:04 pm I received this from the female owner:

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

I then sent both owners on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10:25 a.m. the following:

“Good morning (names of owners),

At any point since my husband’s carbon monoxide poisoning in room Barroca at Villa San Francisco on Friday 4-27-17 (not Saturday 4-28-17) morning, you could have obtained my email from your manager Jorge or had Jorge provide me with yours, thus not needing to go through Airbnb, clearly.

Your staff witnessed what happened and I phoned the Villa from Red Cross while there fighting to save my husband’s life.

NO ONE contacted me in the first 30 hours post incident. NO ONE!

If Jorge did not inform you until Saturday that is just unconscionable. Although your husband mentioned knowledge of it on Friday 4-28-17.

If Proteccion Civil did an inspection on Saturday, a full day later, it was on a different hot water heater, not the one that nearly caused my husband his life.

The one with the carbon monoxide leak had been removed from where it originally was, directly below the Barroca only window.

It was there on Friday when the poisoning occurred and not on Saturday when I returned to retrieve our items and car and took photos.

I’m sure Jorge could explain the removal of the offending water heater.

While your own health challenges and the loss of a family member are unfortunate and a priority to you, you and your husband have an ultimate priority as business owners operating a facility that rents rooms to the public to be responsive and responsible.

“You are sorry about my husband’s health” is hardly an acknowledgment, apology nor statement of accountability.

I am attaching for now both the Red Cross and Hospital’s diagnoses of Carbon Monoxide Intoxication.

While we are not interested in going the legal route at this point, we are interested in a formal apology and recuperation of all of our expenses including the one night at Villa San Francisco resulting from this nightmare.

Katie & Frank O’Grady”

*sent with the following four attachments taken by my phone while still in Guadalajara:

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Red Cross Treatment & Diagnosis: “Toxic Substance & Inhalation of CO”

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Hospital Diagnosis of Carbon Monoxide Intoxication in Guadalajara

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Hospital Oxygen Therapy for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Receipt for One Session of Hyperbaric Chamber for Carbon Monoxide Intoxication

I then sent the owners of Hotel Villa San Francisco the receipt with letterhead from the Doctor of the hyperbaric chamber facility where Frank received two 90 minute sessions.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 @ 2:12 p.m.

“(names of owners),

Attached please find the receipt for the two hyperbaric chamber treatments my husband Frank O’Grady received to aid in the detoxing of his body from the carbon monoxide poisoning that occurred at your Villa San Francisco in Lake Chapala on Friday, April 28, 2017.

I will be sending the other various receipts of charges incurred to save his life in subsequent emails.

Katie O’Grady”

Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Receipt from Doctor from Hyperbaric Chamber Facility in Guadalajara


Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

First of Two Hyperbaric Chamber Treatments

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

High-Pressured Systemic Oxygen Treatment

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

#2 of 2 Hyperbaric Treatments in Guadalajara

Just Do The Right Thing

I have heard nothing else from the owners nor the management beyond what I have shared here.

My observation is that as a result of it being a busy labor day holiday weekend and their being overbooked, that they connected this small, temporary, and obviously malfunctioning water heater up to the outside of Room Barroca so as to not have a larger demand on the other water heater(s).

Clearly, only the manager Jorge and the owners of Hotel Villa San Francisco can speak to this addition/modification—a deadly one that almost cost my husband his life.

Now 9 days post-carbon monoxide poisoning, Frank continues to get clearer and stronger every day. He will have a couple of more hyperbaric chamber treatments and follow up testing in the hopes that there are no long-term consequences.

Needless to say, we will now be traveling with portable carbon monoxide detectors and advocating for others to do so too.

Giving thanks for this precious, fragile life…

I am grateful that I did not have to pick those babies of ours up from their 6th-grade camp on Monday without their Daddy.

Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide in Lake Chapala, Mexico

Praying for Frank’s Life

A simple and affordable installation of a Carbon Monoxide Detector in the hotel room could have prevented all of this.

Click here for the one we use for home and travel protection.

~Katie O’Grady

Feel free to share.




*Disclaimer: this article contains affiliate links for products we use. The price is the same whether you use our affiliate link or not. If we haven’t spent our own money on it and loved it, you won’t see an affiliate link for it here. 

Other Platforms Sharing The Importance of Carbon Monoxide Awareness:

Project Shout

Mapping Megan: Portable Carbon Monoxide Detectors Save Lives, Don’t Travel Without One



{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Pat Huber May 8, 2017, 12:08 am

    Oh dear Katie….what a nightmare! I hope Frank is doing better! Russ and I have actually stayed at the Villa San
    Francisco a couple of times. Once, we had the pleasure of a “mad man” upstairs ranting through the night and the
    second time, we had to argue about our bill while checking out. We will not go back. But, I do find it unfathomable that no one reached out to you in the time of crisis. At the least, Jorge should be fired! He was obviously saving his own ass by not being truthful. I am sorry to have missed meeting you….and sorry this was your Lakeside experience! We were in California and just returned when I saw Maureen’s FB post. Please keep in touch and keep your spirits high! You and Frank are blessed with great love and a good life! Mexico has more loving supportive people than those you encountered in this horrible incident. But you know that!!!! Hugs, Pat

    • Katie O'Grady September 13, 2017, 8:57 pm

      Hi Pat,
      Yes, a nightmare indeed it was.
      And unfathomable for sure.
      Looks like the management has been replaced—surprise, surprise.
      And yes, my greatest gifts are my children, my husband, our life…not everyone has that, unfortunately.
      Karma always paves her way….
      Un abrazo,

  • Miguel2 May 8, 2017, 6:30 am

    Hola Katie – First, all of us who follow you and your family via your blog are thankful for Frank’s recuperation. Second, this is a terrible chain of events resulting from gross negligence on the part of the hotel, and you are quite right to make others aware of the situation. Third, it’s a good reminder to all of us to be aware of carbon monoxide risks in hotel rooms and rental houses without carbon monoxide detectors. Personal travel-size detractors are available, and I’m buying one this week for upcoming travels. Hugs to you and your husband and your twins.

    • Katie O'Grady May 8, 2017, 2:14 pm

      Hola Miguel2,
      We are so grateful for our community of support and care. Thank you for being part of that.
      And yes, I couldn’t agree more… a terrible chain of events resulting from gross negligence is right.
      I have a moral obligation to share our horrific experience, because if it saves just one life, then it is worth the blood, sweat and tears it took me to document what happen.
      Less than 24 hours post publishing of our story and hundreds of people have shared with us that they have already (or are going to) purchase a portable/travel carbon monoxide detector for their stays in hotels, etc.
      Clearly, having CO detectors up in one’s place of residence is essential too.
      Blessings to you and your lovely wife.

  • Greg May 8, 2017, 11:31 am

    Katie & Frank – Wow! What an ordeal. The confluence of events is just awful. I am so sorry for how you have suffered in what was supposed to be some restful together time. On the other hand, it sounds like Katie’s quick actions and gut instinct made sure that Frank got the correct medical care which saved his life. I can only imagine how dizzying all of this has been.

    Thank you for bringing much needed awareness around the entire carbon monoxide issue.It takes people like you to take a negative experience and turn it into a teachable moment. I have followed the comments on some of the FB pages where your story has appeared and admire the calm manner in which you are able to handle some of the totally bizarre comments that are being shared.

    I hope you are able to get an acceptable resolution with the owner/AirBnB and that Frank makes a full recovery.

    • Katie O'Grady May 8, 2017, 2:04 pm

      Hi Greg,
      You are right…the confluence of events was just terrible and will take some time to process through. BUT we are stronger than this and united we stand, always. I am grateful that my being bilingual and a keen observer of my surroundings facilitated the saving of Frank’s life—that, and the fact he is one strong Irish man!
      I have to extract something remotely of “value” out of this and if it is that I will be a spokesperson of some sort for carbon monoxide awareness and in turn save a life, then my husband’s horrible experience will not have been in vain.
      I also hope that the owners will decide to do the right thing of acknowledging, apologizing and compensating us for the expenses incurred to treat Frank’s carbon monoxide poisoning at their hotel. The fact that we are now 11 days post incident and I haven’t heard anything from them other than what I shared in the article is beyond unconscionable in my book.

  • Denise May 8, 2017, 12:25 pm

    Continued speedy recovery! What a nightmare! I look forward to hearing he’s feeling 100% soon. Hang in there.

    • Katie O'Grady May 8, 2017, 1:54 pm

      Thank you Denise,
      A nightmare indeed it was.
      The fact that the owners are taking no responsibility is just unconscionable.
      But beyond that, what is more important, is my husband’s life and health.
      Thank you for your support,

  • Frank May 8, 2017, 2:18 pm

    Well done, baby.
    This has been an incredibly difficult week for all of us…. the emotional trauma outside of the physical damage is so significant.
    Thousands of people die every year in countries all over the world from CO poisoning.
    We will never travel without one with us again.

    • Katie O'Grady May 8, 2017, 2:26 pm

      Yes, a ‘difficult week’ would for sure be the understatement of the year, but thankfully, with a very good outcome—your being alive. I can barely type that without the tears falling again.
      We will now be even more protected when on the road with our new CO portable detectors and no doubt others will consider doing the same.
      I love you.

  • Ulises May 10, 2017, 9:22 am

    Wow Katie, so glad Frank is ok but I’m so disgusted at the display of insensitivity and unaccountability by this hotel. You should continue to expose this story as much as posible. Best wishes for Frank’s quick and complete recovery.

    • Katie O'Grady May 11, 2017, 1:53 pm

      Hi Ulises,
      Yes, disgusting is right. Unconscionable.
      The detailing of this event via my blog along has already reached over 40,000 people and no doubt will reach more.
      Additionally, their lack of acknowledgment and/or apology is being blasted on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Tripadvisor.
      One must be accountable for their decisions, or lack thereof.
      They should at the very least be giving thanks that their subpar hotel maintenance did not kill my husband and my children’s Daddy.
      Thank you for the best wishes. They are gratefully received.

  • Kathy Fontaine May 10, 2017, 2:32 pm

    Dear O’Grady’s, I am overwhelmed thinking of what could have happened to you both (at night) and what did happen to Frank. Katie, you are amazing to bravely take care of all the details and care for Frank and to stand up to the hotel owners and staff. It could have been totally different if you were not fluent in Spanish. We have yet to met in person, but I feel close to you all. It is with a very grateful heart for your well being and the miracle that saved your lives, that I send this to you. I pray for Frank’s full recovery. Your cautionary tale is going to save countless lives. Kathy Fontaine

    • Katie O'Grady May 11, 2017, 1:39 pm

      Hi Kathy,
      Thank you for your kind and supportive message.
      Overwhelming and unbelievable it was…terrifying and surreal really.
      While Frank is still suffering some of the results of the CO poisoning, he is #1 alive and #2 getting better with hopefully no permanent consequences.
      The sharing of this event will hopefully protect many others. I have already received hundreds of messages of gratitude from people sharing that they have purchased their own portable CO detector for travel AND are making sure that their home ones are running and in good condition.
      Frank speaks so highly of you and I am grateful all of our paths have crossed.
      Katie 🙂

  • Michael Heckman May 12, 2017, 9:54 am

    Wow Katie, what a story. I’m so glad that Frank is improving and especially glad and thankful that you were such a effective advocate for Frank.

    • Katie O'Grady August 12, 2017, 11:37 pm

      Hi Michael,

      We can at long last say that this is “behind us”, but of course we will NEVER forget what happened nor stop informing others, with the singular purpose of empowerment and protection. #savealife #carbonmonoxideawareness

      As to the owners and management of the hotel where Frank nearly died, to this day, they have not acknowledged nor apologized.

      That is on their conscience.

      Katie 🙂

  • Diana October 22, 2017, 2:20 am

    What a horrific story. Thank you for sharing this with the public to protect others. Has the hotel reimbursed you eventually?

    My situation is that I live in Tijuana in an apartment complex with very strange building structure. The gas dryers and gas water heaters are ventilated through inner building shafts, which also serve as room windows. I can smell the dryer inside our bedroom. So potentially 4 building floors are blowing their dryers inside 12×12 feet vertical inner ciurtyard/shaft that has an opening on the roof but, it’s hardly enough to ventilate the entire exhaust out. Inevitably we are inhaling this stuff. I have expressed my concerns to the landlord, but they don’t care. The response is – it’s Mexico, no one fixes anything here. It’s too expensive…

    I am lost as to whom I could contact to come here and inspect the building and whether or not this would even be a code violation in Mexico..
    I have installed the CO alarm by my bed. But who knows, maybe it malfunctions.. I would love to force my landlord install a normal ventilation for all the water heaters and dryers in the building but I doubt it’s realistic. Please advise if you have any knowledge on the subject.

    Mexico is a great country with a lot of amazing attributes, but the safety negligence is appalling.

    Hope your husband has fully recovered.

    Best wishes,

    • Katie O'Grady October 30, 2017, 10:21 am

      Greetings Diana,

      Horrific indeed it was and a memory that I don’t think even time will soften nor erase.
      No, Hotel Villa San Francisco in Lake Chapala has not reimbursed us one peso, not even for the one night in the carbon monoxide room.

      Your situation sounds very concerning.
      Have you placed CO detectors throughout your apartment in addition to by your bed? Are they new, in good working order, with fresh batteries that you change out when needed (refer to manufacturers stipulation on this)?

      Perhaps contact Protección Civil to see if they could do a site inspection?

      And if your CO alarms are sounding, videotape it as evidence and get out of the building!

      Best Regards,

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