FORT LAUDERDALE (CN) – A woman and her 4-year-old grandson died when a hyperbaric oxygen chamber caught fire at a clinic, their family says. They say faulty equipment at the Ocean Hyperbaric Neurological Center is to blame.
The late Vincenza Pesce brought her grandson to the clinic to undergo oxygen treatment for cerebral palsy on May 1, according to the complaint in Broward County Court, and to the report of a sheriff’s investigation.
The woman and boy were trapped inside the hyperbaric chamber when the device burst into flames, and were still locked in the smoldering device when volunteer firefighters arrived, according to the sheriff’s report.
The sheriff’s June 9 preliminary report said the boy was still alive, but a sheriff’s spokeswoman says he died on June 11.
The investigation has not determined the cause of the malfunction, but an internal speaker is mentioned as a possible source of ignition.
“We have not been provided access to the chamber in question, so causation is still unknown,” said Phillip Sprinkle, attorney for Ocean Hyperbaric.
The sheriff’s office says the device is a Vickers “clamshell” model, built in 1967.
Ocean Hyperbaric’s Web site states, “Many people wonder why the Vickers chambers remain in use at our facility today. … Daily practice with these chambers has resulted in OHNC demonstrating a remarkable safety profile.”
The family seeks damages for liability and negligence. It is represented by Russell Adler with Rothstein Rosenfeldt.