(NEW YORK) — The families of American tourists who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while staying in an Airbnb in Mexico are warning those who plan to travel during the busy holiday season of the potential dangers that could arise while vacationing abroad.
The victims — Jordan Marshall and Courtez Hall, both schoolteachers from New Orleans, and Kandace Florence, a business owner in Virginia Beach, Virginia — were found dead in a Mexico City apartment they booked on Airbnb in October, according to the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City.
The three friends had traveled to Mexico to partake in the Day of the Dead festivities when Florence called her boyfriend and said she wasn’t feeling well, her family told said during a news conference on Thursday. She described being dizzy and her legs feeling wobbly, her mother said.
The victims were found after security guards at the apartment complex detected an intense gas smell, authorities said. Blood tests later determined that they died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Now, the mothers of the victims are speaking out about losing their children in what their lawyers described as a preventable tragedy.
Jennifer Marshall, the mother of Jordan Marshall, said the families are infuriated that their children “could have been saved by a $30 carbon monoxide detector.”
“It is unfortunate and it also infuriates us that we will never have the opportunity to talk to, laugh with or comfort our children,” she said.
Ceola Hall, Courtez Hall’s mother, said she does not want any parent to go through what she went through.
“You want to get as much detail from your children as you can when they are leaving, because you don’t never know that might be your last time seeing them,” Ceola Hall said.
Freida Florence, Kandace Florence’s mother, cried as she addressed reporters, saying that the holiday season was her daughter’s favorite time of year. She wants her daughter’s untimely death to have meaning, she said.
“She had a prophecy: ‘I’m going to change the world. I’m going to show people how to keep going in spite of controversy,'” Freida Florence said.
The attorneys for the families are now demanding that Airbnb mandates carbon monoxide detectors in every listing it has, describing the victims’ deaths as “inexcusable.”
Family attorney L. Chris Stewart said what happened to Jordan Marshall, Courtez Hall and Kandace Florence could happen to anyone, adding that “more people are going to die if this is not fixed.”
“Nobody travels around with a smoke detector in one hand, a carbon monoxide detector in the other,” he said. “We just trust companies to do the right thing, and it didn’t happen.”
Attorney Michael Haggard said those considering booking a short-term rental should book a reputable hotel or resort for their next vacation instead.
“We know that if you check, you stay in a Marriott, Hilton, wherever it is, they’re gonna have carbon monoxide detectors,” he said.
“This is a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones as they grieve such an unimaginable loss,” Airbnb said in a statement to ABC News. “Our priority right now is supporting those impacted as the authorities investigate what happened, and we stand ready to assist with their inquiries however we can,”
A failure in the apartment’s gas boiler released a gas smell, as well as carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas, a spokesperson for the Mexico attorney general’s office told ABC News.
Investigators believe one of the victims attempting to take a shower could have activated the boiler.
In a statement to ABC News in October, Airbnb described the deaths as “a terrible tragedy.”
“Our priority now is to provide support to those affected while the authorities investigate what happened and we are available to cooperate with the investigation in any way we can,” a spokesperson for the short-term rental website said.
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