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Mom says 9-year-old son hospitalized after chemical exposure at Aurora pool

AURORA, Colo. — On Friday afternoon, Aurora Fire Rescue (AFR) reported responding to Del Mar Aquatic Center in Aurora for a “hazardous material incident” where seven people were hurt after a pump leaked pool chemicals into the air. Five people were taken to the hospital for treatment, according to AFR.

The public pool is closed until further notice as repairs are made and an investigation is conducted.


7 people at Aurora pool treated after pump leaks pool chemicals into air

3:47 PM, Jun 14, 2024

Tiffani Jojola told Denver7 she brought her children, including 9-year-old Paxten, to the pool on Friday.

“We were getting ready to leave. I told Paxten, you can go on the diving board a couple more times. So, that’s what he did. And I started to get my two little ones dressed,” Tiffani explained. “[Paxten] dove off the diving board, went back, and got out of the pool using the ladder. And I guess somewhere near the ladder there was a toxic gas spraying out.”

Tiffani said Paxten came to her right away and told her something was wrong. Her son was having trouble breathing.

“It was almost like he was suffocating at first, and just coughing uncontrollably,” Tiffani said.

“My throat was tightened up and I was sweating a lot, and my face started to tighten up too, and it was hurting really bad,” Paxten said.

Tiffani brought Paxten to a lifeguard, who began giving him oxygen.

“Maybe a few minutes later, three more kids came up coughing really bad, and more and more just started coming up,” Tiffani recalled. “It was very, very traumatic. Parents were having to tell their kids, like, ‘you’re going to be okay, you’re going to make it.’”

Tiffani remembered seeing more children affected by the chemical than adults, but did notice one adult woman experiencing symptoms.

According to the Jojolas, Paxten was one of the five people taken to the hospital, where he stayed overnight for observation. Tiffani said doctors told Paxten he inhaled hydrochloric acid.

“He does have a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, so I was really concerned that the acid would cause more damage to his condition and also just his lungs,” Tiffani explained.

The family said they do not plan to revisit the pool — but want to see some accountability taken as a result of this incident.

“We grew up there. It’s really sad because I loved that pool. We loved that pool, and have a lot of good memories, but it’s scary,” Tiffani said. “We definitely expect it to be safe… Let other parents know too, if your kids start coughing a lot at a pool, that there’s other chemicals that we don’t know about that can be there, that can be exposed to your kids, and to watch out for the signs, like coughing uncontrollably. And listen to your kids that it might not just be chlorine water.”

Denver7 reached out to Pool Spa and Medics to discuss the maintenance needed for chemical pumps. The company spoke in general terms, since the chemical in question has not been confirmed by officials.

Chemical pumps are pretty straight forward. There is actually very little preventive maintenance to them. They are a closed system that pumps chemicals directly into the plumbing of the pool filtration system. If one of those lines blows off, possibly from back pressure, it can cause chemical release in the pump room or off gassing depending on the type of chemical.

The other thing to note is the chem feed lines themselves can become clogged creating back pressure and blowing the line off and creating chemical release as well.

Pool and Spa Medics

The statement provided by the City of Aurora ends with “the safety of our guests is our top priority, and we will be thoroughly investigating the cause of the incident.”

Mom says 9-year-old son hospitalized after chemical exposure at Aurora pool

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