Tragic Deaths of US Citizens at Baja Sur Luxury Hotel

Hotel's Gas Leak Negligence Raises Concerns of Safety Breach

by Nouman Rasool
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Tragic Deaths of US Citizens at Baja Sur Luxury Hotel

Tragic Deaths of Two US Citizens Linked to Gas Poisoning at Baja Sur Luxury Hotel Gas poisoning is believed to cause the untimely deaths of two American individuals who were discovered lifeless in their room at a lavish hotel in Baja California Sur.

The victims, identified as John Heathco, 41, and Abby Lutz, 28, were found on Tuesday night at Rancho Pescadero, an upscale boutique hotel situated in the picturesque coastal village of El Pescadero, approximately 70 kilometers north of Cabo San Lucas.

Rancho Pescadero, owned by Hyatt, charges a premium rate of $600 per night. Authorities from the Baja California Sur Attorney General's Office (PGJE) disclosed last Thursday that preliminary autopsies indicated the cause of death for Heathco and Lutz as "intoxication by an undetermined substance." The bodies reportedly died for 11 to 12 hours before being discovered.

Both victims hailed from Newport Beach, California. The PGJE affirmed that no signs of physical violence were evident on the bodies, consistent with earlier reports that gas inhalation was the suspected cause of their demise.

However, the nature of the substance that led to the poisoning remains undetermined as investigations continue.

Alarming Negligence: Rancho Pescadero Staff Ignored Gas Leak Warnings

Former and current employees of Rancho Pescadero shared disturbing accounts with The Los Angeles Times, revealing that management repeatedly ignored warning signs of a gas leak and deactivated carbon monoxide detectors to prevent alarming guests.

A former night manager, Ricardo Carbajal, asserted that the hotel was aware of gas leak issues, noting that carbon monoxide detectors had frequently sounded alarms over three months in late 2022, likely caused by outdoor fire pits.

Carbajal, who left the resort in March due to a salary dispute, claimed that after guests complained about the alarms, hotel managers disabled the detectors in January. Several current employees, speaking anonymously, confirmed the deactivation of carbon monoxide detectors, although one suggested that only the alarms were disabled, while security personnel still received gas detection alerts.

Troublingly, employees reported numerous instances of solid gas odors, yet hotel management allegedly disregarded their concerns. One employee recounted how housekeepers, security personnel, and maintenance workers said gas leaks.

A housekeeper fell ill with suspected gas poisoning just days before the tragic deaths of Heathco and Lutz, further heightening concerns among the staff regarding a potential explosion. Additional evidence supporting the theory of gas poisoning emerged from two paramedics, Fernando Valencia Sotelo and Grisel Valencia Sotelo, who responded to the scene and fell ill themselves.

A GoFundMe page was created to cover their medical expenses, detailing how they barely managed to exit the room in time before one of them collapsed. Both were treated with oxygen and subsequently transported to the hospital.

The page expressed gratitude that Mexico's first female fire chief, Griselda Lorena Sotelo Amaya, mother of the paramedics, narrowly avoided losing her children during the distressing incident. Although Abby Lutz's stepmother disclosed that Lutz had mentioned being hospitalized on June 11 due to feeling unwell and suspecting food poisoning, she did not say unusual or strong odors at the hotel.

Carbon monoxide, an odorless gas, could have potentially mixed with other leaking gases at Rancho Pescadero, leading to the tragic outcome. Initially, Hyatt officials dismissed any connection between the deaths and a gas leak or infrastructure issue.

However, the hotel chain later released a statement expressing deep concern about the allegations and stating its cooperation with authorities in the ongoing investigation. Hyatt clarified that air quality testing conducted immediately after the incident did not reveal any gas or carbon monoxide, and the hotel was given clearance to continue.

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