Police responded to the mall around 6:10 p.m. after a report that a woman had fallen and hit her head in the basement of the Legal Sea Foods restaurant, police said.
When police and emergency personnel arrived on the scene, they soon felt nauseous and dizzy and recognized it as a carbon monoxide event, police said.
The restaurant was evacuated and police found the general manager of Legal Sea Foods, Steven Nelson, 55, of Copiague, unconscious in the basement. He was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Twenty-seven other victims, including four ambulance personnel and three police officers, were transported to five area hospitals with non-life threatening symptoms after exposure to the deadly odorless gas, police said.
Most of the victims were employees at Legal Sea Foods and police said the investigation is focusing on the restaurant’s heating equipment.
Legal Sea Foods, The Cheesecake Factory and Panera Bread, which are not connected to the main mall building, were evacuated as a precaution. Police later said the carbon monoxide appeared to be confined to the basement of Legal Sea Foods.
Newsday reported Sunday that a flue pipe leading from one of the water heaters at the restaurant failed, which led to the carbon monoxide buildup in the basement. There were no carbon monoxide detectors in the restaurant, the report said.
Legal Sea Foods, which has restaurants in seven states, posted a message on its Facebook page late Saturday night regarding Nelson's death.
"Steve's tragic death is a shock to all of us at Legal Sea Foods," the message reads. "He was one of the finest people we've ever had the pleasure of working with. This is a very sad day."
About 100 firefighters and EMS personnel were on the scene with three engines, three heavy rescue trucks and 15 ambulances, officials said. The units were under the command of Huntington Manor Fire Department Chief Fred Steenson Jr., and Assistant Chiefs Frank McQuade, Mike DePasquale and Jon Hoffmann. Suffolk County Fire-Rescue and EMS personnel were also dispatched to provide assistance.