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Among the injured at Gaylord Rockies was a father who shielded son from falling HVAC duct

<i>KCNC</i><br/>Aurora Fire Chief Alec Oughton addresses reporters at a news conference outside the Gaylord Rockies Resort after an HVAC collapse injured six people on Saturday
KCNC
Aurora Fire Chief Alec Oughton addresses reporters at a news conference outside the Gaylord Rockies Resort after an HVAC collapse injured six people on Saturday

By AUSTEN ERBLAT, CBSCOLORADO.COM STAFF, OLIVIA YOUNG

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    AURORA, Colorado (KCNC) — Several people were injured Saturday at the Gaylord Rockies Resort in Aurora after some mechanical equipment collapsed in the pool area. And despite two people suffering life-threatening injuries, Aurora Fire Rescue said the investigation into the collapse will be up to the resort itself.

The collapse and injuries were confirmed by that agency around 10 a.m. The agency later said that a total of six people were injured, two of whom were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

“There will be an investigation, that’ll be all the Gaylord’s responsibility,” Aurora Fire Chief Alec Oughton said at a news conference after the collapse. “It’s not a fire department investigation but I know they have an interest in looking into what happened and getting to the bottom of it.”

A guest at the resort told CBS News Colorado the fire alarm was pulled and the resort evacuated.

That person saw an injured child being treated on the pool deck after it happened. They went on to say that the equipment in question that collapsed appeared to be a pool duct.

That witness shared videos of victims being treated at the indoor pool deck.

“I just heard from the staff that there was a ventilation failure and that no one had died and I overheard from the radio of one of the firefighters that there was at least two victims,” another witness told CBS News Colorado.

A woman, identified as Jenn Spykerman, said on Twitter that her son was almost hit by the duct and that she saw multiple people being treated and taken away in ambulances.

CBS News Colorado interviewed her 12-year-old son Trevor Spykerman in the immediate aftermath of the collapse.

“I was in the pool, I just got off the slide and all of a sudden, all of the metal pipes and stuff fell around everything and some of it landed in the hot tub where I saw people get in earlier,” he said. Trevor said he didn’t see anyone get injured in the collapse, but soon after, he saw a man with red marks on his back.

He said the collapse lasted about 15 seconds and described it as having happened in slow motion.

“When I saw all of it come down, most of it took like, five seconds to come down, and it brought all the other pipes down as well,” he said. “It smelled like oil… I thought maybe the roof would collapse soon and I thought maybe because of the oil smell, maybe something might catch on fire.”

Trevor said that lifeguards and other staff immediately responded, followed later by paramedics. The lifeguards blew their whistles and ordered everyone out of the pool. “They did a good job at evacuating the building,” he said.

Trevor hurt his feet evacuating the pool due to the debris since he was still barefoot, he said, but thankfully, he was otherwise uninjured.

The man whose back was injured in the collapse was later identified as Kolby Huseman, who also spoke to CBS News Colorado about what happened.

Huseman was in the pool tossing a football with his 5-year-old son Levi when they heard the pipes above them start to make a noise. Huseman, who was on vacation with his family from Houston, looked up to see the large metal ducts come crashing down onto them.

“I grabbed my son and kind of just, tucked him under me,” he told CBS News Colorado. He says part of the duct fell directly on his back. He received scratches from his shoulders to his waist and bruising all over his back. “Right after it happened, it was kind of like a war zone — a lot of parents screaming for their kids.”

His son only got a scraped knee. While they were tossing their football, one of them missed a catch and the ball went wide. Huseman said a young girl went to retrieve it for them and was badly injured when the ducts collapsed. She was not immediately identified and her condition was not known Sunday.

The Huseman family flew back to Houston after he was able to leave the Gaylord and Kolby Huseman said he’d go to a hospital near home to get checked out, as well as bring Levi to a therapist to discuss what happened.

In a news conference outside the resort, Oughton said the initial call for a structure collapse came in at 9:50 a.m. Some units were already on the scene doing training inside the hotel and were the first to respond.

There were 50 to 100 people in the pool area at the time, Oughton said. There’s no indication yet of what led up to it. The Gaylord Rockies are investigating the incident, as well as the fire department.

There’s no additional threat of collapse, he continued, and applauded his responders for a “rapid and effective response.”

Sunday, the resort issued a statement about the collapse via email to CBS News Colorado.

“We are devastated by this traumatic incident. On Saturday, our top priorities were to support emergency responders and render assistance to those directly impacted, and we’re very grateful to the Aurora Fire Department for their swift actions. Moving forward, we are focused on helping our affected guests and associates, and we are working with the appropriate experts to conduct a thorough investigation,” the statement read.

City of Aurora officials said they’d discuss the incident and investigation into the collapse Monday.

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