Mexico hotel where US couple died allegedly disabled carbon monoxide detectors months earlier, employees claim

Couple on vacation in Mexico was found dead from suspected “intoxication” due to an unknown substance

Ariana Baio
Monday 19 June 2023 10:44 EDT
SoCal couple dies during vacation in Mexico

Months before Abby Lutz and John Heathco were supposed to stay at the Rancho Pescadero hotel in Baja California Sur, former and current employees allege that management ignored signs of a gas leak and disabled carbon monoxide detectors.

“They knew there were problems with a gas leak,” Ricardo Carbajal, the former night manager of Rancho Pescadero, told The Los Angeles Times.

Mr Carbajal, who stopped working at the luxury hotel in March, said carbon monoxide detectors went off frequently over a period of three months last year before hotel managers disabled the alarms due to noise complaints.

“Everyone was aware of the alarms and that the detectors were off,” Mr Carabajal said.

The claim comes nearly a week after 28-year-old Lutz and 41-year-old Heathco were found deceased from “intoxication” of an unknown substance in their hotel room.

The couple was staying at the hotel while on a vacation in Mexico. According to Lutz’s family, the two began to experience what they thought was food poisoning and sought treatment at a local hospital.

Lutz had spoken to her family on Monday (12 June) and informed them they were feeling better. Sometimes between then and the next day, Tuesday (13 June), the couple died in their hotel room.

The Baja California attorney general’s office said in a statement that there were no signs of physical violence and Lutz and Heathco died of “intoxication” of a substance they are still investigating.

Lutz’s family said in the description of a GoFundMe that they were “told” their deaths could have been due to “improper venting of the resort and could be carbon monoxide poisoning”

John Heathco was found dead in a Mexico hotel room with Abby Lutz

Current employees of the luxury hotel told The Los Angeles Times that there were complaints of a “strong smell of gas” from employees and guests but hotel managers ignored it.

“Housekeepers reported gas leaks, security reported gas leaks maintenance workers reported gas leaks,” one employee who requested to remain anonymous said.

Guests apparently also complained of a powerful gas smell while sitting next to a fire feature in the dining room. Alexander Coughlin, a real estate agent from San Francisco, told The Los Angeles Times that he stayed at the luxury hotel this past week.

Mr Coughlin requested to move tables due to the overpowering gas smell and an employee agreed that it smelt heavily of gas. He later informed the Rancho Pescadero’s food and beverage director but did not hear back.

The Independent has reached out to Hyatt for comment.

The employee said that the housekeeper who cleaned Lutz and Heathco’s room after they were found dead became ill of “suspected gas poisoning”.

Paramedics who responded to reports of the couple being unconscious said they also felt ill while attending to the couple.

Fernando Valencia said he and his partner felt “dizzy” in the hotel room and told Good Morning America: “We went out of the room as soon as possible … I was afraid for my partner because my first thought in my mind was ‘are we going to die?’”

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