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At press conference, attorneys for Legionellosis victims ask for answers about outbreak

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According to a press release from attorneys representing people exposed to Legionnella, Michael Petrey of Candler and his family attended the last day of the fair, Sept. 15. Soon after attending the fair, Petrey became ill, and was hospitalized on Sept. 23.{ } Photo credit: Petrey family

The family of a man who allegedly contracted Legionnaires' disease after attending the N.C. Mountain State Fair at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher spoke out Wednesday for the first time regarding the incident, and provided an update on his condition.

Attorneys representing people exposed to Legionnella say they want answers for the families affected by the outbreak, and also more information from the state regarding at what point the fair or operators of a hot tub area in the Davis Center at the fairgrounds knew people were becoming sick.

On Wednesday, attorneys referred to a client's illness as the result of "extreme negligence," and say that currently, their efforts are about holding the people responsible accountable.

They say they currently plan no litigation, but want answers.

According to a press release from attorneys representing people exposed to Legionnella, Michael Petrey of Candler and his family attended the last day of the fair, Sept. 15. Soon after attending the fair, Petrey became ill, and was hospitalized on Sept. 23.

Petrey, 40, a father of five, experienced symptoms within a week. He was first diagnosed with double pneumonia.

His fiancee, Brandy Begley, told doctors to check Petrey for Legionnella and Legionnaires.

"He was subsequently diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease. His condition continued to deteriorate and he went into a coma and was put on dialysis Oct. 2. Petrey recently came out of the coma and was moved to ICU, where he remains today. He is weak, extremely fatigued and having serious issues with his kidneys," a news release from the family's attorneys said.

In the press conference, speakers said Petrey is now awake and conscious, even joking, and slowly getting better.

"The scariest thing I think I have ever been through in my life," Begley said of the experience. "Just to not know if he is going to make it. Just sitting there patiently waiting every day for him to get better, and they keep telling me that is it a slow process."

During his hospital stay, speakers said Petrey was on dialysis and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a treatment in which a pump circulates blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream of a very ill person.

On Wednesday, Begley says her fiance is awake and conscious in the ICU — but has a long road ahead of him.

His family has hired trial attorneys L. Chris Stewart, of Stewart Trial Attorneys; Matt Wetherington, of the Wetherington Firm; and Lindsey Curcio, of the Curcio Law Group, to assist in getting additional information about exactly what occurred. The attorneys are also representing 150 people in Atlanta exposed to Legionnella at an Atlanta hotel in June and July.

They also represent multiple families in the Asheville area who are exhibiting Legionnaire’s disease symptoms.

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