Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that RK Mechanical did not design the system, and only fabricated and installed it. The company said the information on its website was incorrect.
AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The investigation into what caused the overhead HVAC system to collapse into a crowded pool area at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center will not include any government investigators.
Aurora Fire Rescue said six people were hurt, two of them with life-threatening injuries, when firefighters and paramedics responded to the accident on Saturday morning. But neither Aurora Fire nor any other city agency has jurisdiction to investigate what went wrong on private property.
In a statement emailed to FOX31, a spokesperson for the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center said, “We are devastated by this traumatic incident. On Saturday, our top priorities were to support emergency responders and render assistance to those directly impacted, and we’re very grateful to the Aurora Fire Department for their swift actions. Moving forward, we are focused on helping our affected guests and associates, and we are working with the appropriate experts to conduct a thorough investigation.”
The spokesperson did not respond to follow-up questions, including who the “appropriate experts” are, but it’s likely the Gaylord will have lots of questions for RK Mechanical.
Gaylord hired Denver company for HVAC work
That’s the Denver-based company that, according to its own website, “Fabricated and installed the all-new mechanical, hydronic and plumbing systems for this ground-up building. Our team served as the only mechanical subcontractor for the entire project, including both the hotel and convention center.”
RK Mechanical posted a video in December 2017 showcasing its work one year before the 1,500-room hotel and convention space opened to the public.
The company released a statement to the Problem Solvers on Monday afternoon.
“RK Mechanical was one of the contractors that installed mechanical equipment at the Gaylord Rockies Resort during its construction roughly five years ago,” the statement reads. “We are and will continue to cooperate with local authorities, the Gaylord and other contractors to determine the cause of this accident. In the meantime, our thoughts are with those who have been affected by this unfortunate event, and we are here to help in any way we can.”
In Gaylord accident, black liquid spewed from broken ductwork
The Problem Solvers spoke on background with a mechanical engineer, who said the black liquid seen pouring out of broken ductwork was probably a buildup of mold and mildew mixed with water.
He suspected vents in the ductwork may have been poorly designed and positioned in such a way that moisture from the pool area couldn’t properly escape the ductwork, causing the heavy liquid to build up over years and eventually weigh down the ductwork to the point it snapped and collapsed.
An attorney who specializes in construction defects litigation told the Problem Solvers on background that investigators will likely focus on what impact moisture buildup from the pool area could have had on the stability of the ductwork above.
The city of Aurora granted more than 60,000 inspections to the Gaylord Rockies Resort before the state’s largest hotel and convention center opened in December 2018.
A city spokesperson told FOX31 that once the permits are approved, annual inspections are generally not required, and it’s up to the private owner of the Gaylord Rockies Resort to ensure everything works properly.