PALM CITY, Fla. — A 10-year-old boy is suffering from brain damage after a botched fumigation of his family’s Florida home, according to a family attorney.
Peyton McCaughey and his family fell ill shortly after a Terminix subcontractor, Sunland Pest Control, sprayed their Palm City home for termites on August 14, family attorney Bill Williams said. The family was told it was safe to return to the home two days later on August 16, Williams said.
The family immediately began feeling ill.
The boy’s uncle, Ed Gribben, told CNN that everyone was vomiting, and Peyton’s condition was even worse.
Gribben said Peyton had trouble standing and speaking, so the family took him to a local clinic where a doctor suspected poisoning from fumigation.
The parents, Lori and Carl McCaughey, and their 7-year-old daughter recovered, but Peyton kept getting worse. After spending more than two weeks in three different children’s hospitals, he can barely speak, Williams said.
The child, who loves Minecraft and is known for his witty personality and athletic talent, has lost 90% of his motor skills, Gribben said.
He also lost function of his left arm and leg, Williams said.
“He has traumatic brain injury and loss of motor skills,” Williams said. “The rest of the family is fine, thank God. The little boy is not fine.”
Williams said CT scans show areas of concern in his brain.
“He’s got his personality; he will still smile and still laugh, but he can’t get the words out that he wants to say and can’t move the way he wants to move, and frustration sets in,” Gribben said.
A source with knowledge of the incident says the Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation.
And the Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services announced Friday that it, too, “is investigating in collaboration with the (federal) EPA and the (state) Department of Health.”
“While our investigation is ongoing, we are issuing a Stop Work Order prohibiting (Sunland Pest Control) from conducting any fumigations at this time,” the agricultural and consumer services department said in a statement.
Sulfuryl fluoride, a gas fumigant, was the pesticide used to fumigate, sources told CNN.
Terminix gave this statement to CNN: “We were saddened to learn of this and our hearts are with the family. We are carefully reviewing the matter.”
Sunland Pest Control could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
Gribben set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the family so they can take time off of work while Peyton recovers.
The family has not filed a lawsuit.
This is the second time this year that Terminix has been involved in a fumigation that injured people.
In March, a family vacationing on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, fell ill after a suspected pesticide exposure. Preliminary tests showed the presence of methyl bromide in villa where the family was staying. Methyl bromide is a substance that is not permitted in the United States for indoor use.
The DOJ and Environmental Protection Agency are investigating.
That family, from Delaware, continues to recover, but the father and two sons have lost much of their motor skills as well, according to a source close to the family.