The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating after a Delaware family became deathly ill while visiting a resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Authorities say the family of four was possibly poisoned while staying at a hotel in St. Johns.
The family fell ill after the unit directly below them was fumigated.
Doctors say traces of methyl bromide, a gas compound commonly used in pesticides, were found in their villa at the SIRENUSA resort.
The EPA banned the use of methyl bromide indoors in the United States because of its “acute toxicity.”
Sea Glass Vacations, which rents out some of the resort’s units, told CNN that Terminix had fumigated the lower unit on March 18, during the family’s stay.
The U.S. Department of Justice has now opened a criminal investigation and the EPA is monitoring air and environmental samples while working with local agencies to figure out what happened.
Terminix told CNN in an email that it is “committed to performing all work in a manner that is safe for our customers, employees, the public and the environment” and is “looking into this matter internally and cooperating with authorities. We’re thinking about the family and we join the community in wishing them a speedy recovery.”
Methyl bromide is odorless and causes injury to the lungs and nervous system. Also, it could be fatal if it is inhaled.
After the fumigation, the boys’ father was found in a coma.
According to the family’s attorney, the boys and their mother suffered from seizures around that time.
After flying back to the United States, the teen boys’ conditions worsened.
A 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy are in critical condition and in comas.
Their father is now conscious but cannot speak.
An EPA spokeswoman told CNN that the agency is actively working to determine how this happened and will make sure it doesn’t happen again.