23 Near Va. Tech Hospitalized With Monoxide Symptoms

By Theresa Vargas and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, August 20, 2007

BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 19 -- Twenty three people, most or all of them Virginia Tech students, were taken to hospitals Sunday from an off-campus apartment house after showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Police said four of the five who were most seriously affected were Tech students from the Washington region, three from Northern Virginia and one from Potomac.

The incident, one day before the start of classes, came as students returned to a campus marked by the killings of 32 students and faculty members in April.

Witnesses said the five monoxide victims who remained hospitalized Sunday night appeared to be unconscious or semiconscious when they were pulled Sunday morning from an apartment in a privately owned building here.

Two of those from Northern Virginia, Kirstin Julia of Ashburn and Kirsten W. Halik of Vienna, were listed in critical condition at the University of Virginia hospital in Charlottesville.

Three other 19-year-olds were listed in stable condition at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. They were identified as Elizabeth A. Bergin of Ashburn, Carolyn Ann Dorman of Potomac and Nichole M. Howarth of Chesterfield, Va.

The incident occurred shortly before 10,000 people attended the dedication on campus of a memorial to the victims of the April shootings.

"It's a community that has gone through a tremendous amount of tragedy in recent months, and we certainly don't need to experience any more of it," a university spokesman said.

The monoxide incident occurred at the Collegiate Suites, an apartment development that lists itself as a "leisurely bike ride from" the campus to which many students returned this weekend.

A woman who answered a telephone at the complex's office declined to comment Sunday night.

Two students who spent Saturday night in an apartment there said they awoke feeling ill.

Britnye Kurty said she awoke in her third-floor apartment about 10:30 a.m. to make certain to be on time for the dedication ceremony.

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