First responders stand outside Panera Bread's store at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington station, N.Y., on Feb. 22. / Steve Silverman, AP
HUNTINGTON STATION, N.Y. (AP) - A 55-year-old restaurant manager died and more than two dozen others were taken to hospitals Saturday after being overcome by carbon monoxide at a New York mall, police said.
Suffolk County police identified the man who died as Steven Nelson, a manager at the Legal Sea Foods restaurant at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station on Long Island.
Police said 28 others affected by carbon monoxide were taken to area hospitals.
Three officers were among those overcome by carbon monoxide at the mall, which is about 35 miles east of New York City, police said. They responded to a call shortly after 6 p.m.
Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and can lead to death by suffocation. The source of the gas leak was under investigation.
Several restaurants at the mall were evacuated as a precaution.
Jose Blanco, a line cook at The Cheesecake Factory, told Newsday that restaurant staffers and customers were suddenly ordered to evacuate.
"Out of nowhere . . . they told us to get out," he said.
Cheesecake Factory patron Kathy Sella was seated in the restaurant's bar area with a friend when they were told to get out.
"The lights went on and we were told to evacuate," Sella told Newsday. "They said, 'You have to leave.' "
The Walt Whitman Shops consists of more than 80 stores, including anchors Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue.
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