Traces of E. coli bacteria were found in the drinking water at the Erin Hills Golf Course during the U.S. Open Championship on Thursday.
So far there hasn’t been any word of people who may have fallen ill because of contamination at the tournament, which is being held this year in Erin, Wisconsin. It’s believed that the water in one hydration station at the course was affected, and those who may be at risk were told to see a doctor.
The U.S. Open started Monday with practice rounds, and tournament play started Thursday. It’s the first time a major tournament has been played at the course, which opened in 2006.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Discovery Was Made Around Hole 12
According to a press release issued by The Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department, the bacteria was found near hole No. 12 at the golf tournament at Erin Hills.
The station was shut off in the morning after the discovery was made by the health department, but there is fear that some visitors to the tournament between Tuesday afternoon until Thursday morning may have consumed the water.
The news release said that there is no evidence that any other hydration stations at the course were at risk, and organizers are moving forward using an abundance of caution.
2. Free Water Bottles Will Be Given out for the Rest of the Tournament
Complimentary water bottles will be given out to those in attendance at the U.S. Open starting Friday and lasting through the rest of the tournament, the USGA said in a statement.
The Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department notified the USGA that it identified evidence of E. coli bacteria from a sample from one hydration station near the 12th hole at Erin Hills golf course, site of the U.S. Open Championship. The water line to the hydration station was disconnected immediately, and bottled water was provided to guests while we waited for the preliminary results to be confirmed by the Public Health Department.
The safety and security of our guests is of paramount importance to the USGA. Out of an abundance of caution, we will offer all guests complimentary bottled water at all four hydration stations throughout the duration of the championship.
The water will be provided at all hydration stations at the event.
3. A Blimp Crashed at the Course Earlier in the Day
The discovery of E. coli came the same day that a PenFed Credit Union blimp flying over the course lit on fire and crashed slowly to the ground.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “one person — presumably the pilot” was flown to a medical center via Flight for Life for “serious” injuries, including burns. He has been identified as Trevor Thompson.
The blimp fell down from the sky around 11:15 a.m. close to Highways 83 and 167, about one mile away from the course.
The aircraft was hovering at about 1,000 feet before high winds forced Thompson to land, the Journal Sentinel reported. As he tried to land, Thompson said that he could hear panels ripping off of the balloon, so he decided to turn the engines off. He was the only occupant in the blimp.
Initial witness accounts said they saw Thompson bail out of the blimp and parachute to the ground, but a spokesman for AirSign, the company that operated the aircraft, told the Journal Sentinel that he remained inside as it fell to the ground.
4. The Contamination May Have Started After Heavy Rain
Officials say they believe that the bacteria leaked into the water system after steady rainfalls earlier in the week at the golf course.
E. coli and other forms of bacteria can often be found in soil and can enter through cracks in underground water pipes. Those people who think they may have consumed the contaminated water or experienced any symptoms were urged to go to the doctor and call (262) 335-4462 with any questions.
5. E. Coli Sickness Can Lead to Kidney Failure & Even Death
Some types of E. coli bacteria can cause severe sickness and even death in some cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children under 5-years old and the elderly are the most at risk from the bacteria. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea and kidney failure. One in about about every 50 people can die from E. coli if not treated appropriately.
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