East Naples foam party that injured dozens draws attention of health department

Submitted by Vince Martinez 
 Vince Martinez, 19, of North Naples, went to a foam party at Loft 59 in East Naples on Friday night, May 25, suffered serious injuries to his eyes and went to the emergency room twice, the second time pushed by his mother in a wheelchair because he was blinded. He called the pain "unbearable" and said, "I thought I was going blind."

Submitted by Vince Martinez Vince Martinez, 19, of North Naples, went to a foam party at Loft 59 in East Naples on Friday night, May 25, suffered serious injuries to his eyes and went to the emergency room twice, the second time pushed by his mother in a wheelchair because he was blinded. He called the pain "unbearable" and said, "I thought I was going blind."

Loft 59

2059 Tamiami Trail East, Naples

"By 3 a.m., I was in the hospital and they flushed my eyes for 30 minutes," Vince E. Martinez said, adding that he went home, awakened at 9 a.m., couldn't open his eyes and called his mother, who rolled him into the emergency room in a wheelchair. "I couldn't open my eyes because of the pain, the stickiness and goo. They were swollen shut. They were ginormous, like golf balls."

— A foam party at a popular East Naples night club last weekend ended in at least 40 people seeking treatment for eye injuries or temporary blindness — and some heading to lawyers' offices to ask about possible lawsuits.

The party at Loft 59 Night Club on U.S. 41 East began at 9 p.m. on Friday, May 25, and ended at 2 a.m. the next day, when party-goers say they were forced to leave an hour early after a "mad dash" to the restroom to wash their eyes.

Deb Millsap, a spokeswoman for the Collier County Health Department, said epidemiological officials were alerted May 26 after patients were seen at three of four area emergency rooms that day. The officials were told at least 40 sought treatment this past week.

On Friday, Collier health officials and state Department of Business and Professional Regulation employees discussed foam parties with health officials from another county that had a similar situation and decided to contact the East Naples night club manager to see if he intends to hold another foam party, Millsap said.

"If they are, we're going to send out one of our environmental health epidemiological staff to see what they're doing," Millsap said. "Sometimes, it's in the process of creating the dilution of soap and water. Sometimes they get overzealous and the foam gets over people's heads and obviously shorter people are going to get more soap in their eyes."

The Daily News reached owner Hector Florez this past week but the phone line disconnected. Repeated attempts to reach him again were unsuccessful.

Party-goers say they were blinded for two days, causing them to miss college classes, exams and work because they couldn't see and were on painkillers and antibiotic ointment.

"I felt like I had shards of glass in my eyes," Lauren Martin, 22, of East Naples, said. "I have never felt so much pain in my life. … My mom had to feed me. I could not open my eyes until Monday afternoon.

"This foam party has left 40 ... people injured with chemical burns and abrasions to our eyes, some being so severe, they are in wheelchairs," she said. "The pain endured is so horrific, on a scale on 1 to 10 … (I) was a 50."

Foam parties, popular in Europe for decades, involve soapy foam sprayed from ceiling blowers onto dancers, who often are clad in swim suits. Foam can reach four feet high.

"I felt like I had shards of glass in my eyes," Lauren Martin, 22, of East Naples, said. "I have never felt so much pain in my life. … My mom had to feed me. I could not open my eyes until Monday afternoon."

"It's like getting soap in your eyes," party promoter William Kobrin said.

A party at a luxury hotel in Turkey ended in two teens dying and several injured in 2008, when a sparkler short-circuited electricity. Last year, a University of Georgia student sued a fraternity after a member slid in foam, slammed into her, broke her tooth and drove three others into her gums and jawbone. In 2004, foam parties were temporarily banned by Croatian health officials after burns to eyes and "delicate skin areas."

News reports and medical journals show the high alkaline content of the foam has caused infections and severe chemical burns to eyes, skin irritation and head injuries from slips and falls. Medical journals say the foam can be toxic to eyes and cause permanent scarring if not treated immediately. Foam manufacturers warn that blowers should be cleaned often to prevent mold, bacteria and infections.

William Kobrin, of Estero-based Beamin Entertainment, which provided the foam, couldn't be reached for comment in recent days despite repeated calls. However, in an interview last Saturday when news of the injuries first surfaced, the party promoter said about 300 attended, the foam he purchased online was safe and it reached only shin high.

"It's like getting soap in your eyes," Kobrin said.

Collier sheriff's deputies were called to NCH North Naples Hospital the morning of May 26 after four people sought treatment for eye injuries.

A sheriff's spokeswoman said this past week that deputies aren't continuing an investigation.

Dr. Ashish Sharma, the on-call emergency room ophthalmologist, declined to comment about the injuries to at least 40 patients he treated, citing privacy laws. Party-goers praised him for opening his office on Memorial Day weekend.

Several local attorneys said they spoke with clients about possible lawsuits.

"I have two people with very serious injuries," attorney Mike McDonnell said. "We are conducting an investigation into the matter."

Martin said she was flushing her eyes in the nightclub bathroom when bouncers ordered partiers to leave. Although she was crying in the parking lot, saying she couldn't see to drive, she said she was ordered to leave the private property.

"I was in so much pain and my eyes were shut," she said, adding that a friend picked her up.

She said she was prescribed eye ointment, painkillers, had to wear sunglasses because she was sensitive to light, and she slept a lot, so she missed college classes, postponed exams, missed a week of work at a restaurant and thus lost hundreds in tips.

Jeffrey Tarr, 29, of North Naples, said he began feeling pain in his eyes early that Saturday after he and friends arrived at the club for an "'80s beach party."

"There was a mad dash to the bathroom," Tarr said. "People were bathing their eyes in the bathroom. At that point, nobody thought it was that serious."

News reports and medical journals show the high alkaline content of the foam has caused infections and severe chemical burns to eyes, skin irritation and head injuries from slips and falls. Medical journals say the foam can be toxic to eyes and cause permanent scarring if not treated immediately. Foam manufacturers warn that blowers should be cleaned often to prevent mold, bacteria and infections.

After they were ordered to leave, he said, he showered to rinse his eyes and tried to sleep it off. But hours later, he went to the emergency room, where his eyes were flushed out and he was prescribed an antibiotic ointment.

"I stayed at my sister's house and she took care of me," he said, adding that his vision began returning late Sunday, but he still has scratches on his cornea and is being monitored by an ophthalmologist. "It was a pretty scary 48 hours."

He'd been to two Loft 59 foam parties before and only had mild skin chafing, he said, but this one was different: There were large wading pools rigged up to hoses that extracted the foamy water and sent it up to what looked like air blowers on the ceilings.

"It smelled like soap and it was mostly dripping from the ceilings," he said. "I put my trust in the club owners. I thought they knew what they were doing."

Vince E. Martinez, 19, of North Naples, called the pain "unbearable," saying his eyes felt itchy after he left, so he took a shower and washed his eyes.

"But by 3 a.m., I was in the hospital and they flushed my eyes for 30 minutes," he said, adding that he went home, awakened at 9 a.m., couldn't open his eyes and called his mother, who rolled him into the emergency room in a wheelchair. "I couldn't open my eyes because of the pain, the stickiness and goo. They were swollen shut. They were ginormous, like golf balls."

"I was trembling and yelling. It felt like I had glass in my eyes and they were being pinched. … I thought I was going blind," he said, adding that he still has "severe scratches" and scarring, but returned to his human resources job Wednesday. "I've had broken bones before, I was in an accident, but this pain was the worst physical pain I have ever felt."

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 51

guest12338 writes:

“I felt like I had shards of glass in my eyes," Lauren Martin, 22, of East Naples, said. "I have never felt so much pain in my life. … My mom had to feed me. I could not open my eyes until Monday afternoon.

"This foam party has left 40 ... people injured with chemical burns and abrasions to our eyes, some being so severe, they are in wheelchairs," she said. "The pain endured is so horrific, on a scale on 1 to 10 … (I) was a 50."

"It's like getting soap in your eyes," Kobrin said.

Well, I’m not surprised. This hipster generation is as unfamiliar with soap as they are responsibility.

anotherPOV writes:

Here's your sign.

jbm9 writes:

in response to guest12338:

“I felt like I had shards of glass in my eyes," Lauren Martin, 22, of East Naples, said. "I have never felt so much pain in my life. … My mom had to feed me. I could not open my eyes until Monday afternoon.

"This foam party has left 40 ... people injured with chemical burns and abrasions to our eyes, some being so severe, they are in wheelchairs," she said. "The pain endured is so horrific, on a scale on 1 to 10 … (I) was a 50."

"It's like getting soap in your eyes," Kobrin said.

Well, I’m not surprised. This hipster generation is as unfamiliar with soap as they are responsibility.

obviously you are clueless

Sick writes:

10 bucks the dude used dishwashing liquid instead of the real product that is a little more expensive. But does not blind your customers.

I bet the test results were higher than usual since all the low score candidates were at the hospital and on pain killers.

floridacarpenter writes:

I find it very difficult to feel sorry for these people. A little common sense goes a long way in this world!!!!!!!!!

malcolmlandry writes:

HAHAHAHAHA

bluffguy writes:

I don't believe in Zombies, but there sure are a lot of brain dead people walking around !

fedupwithnaples writes:

The Health Department needs to close these places down. These kids are so s----- they will do anything and the owners will do anything to get the money$$$$.

Dumb and Dumber strikes again.

Native writes:

If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.

Here4Now writes:

Retards. Feel the burn you idiots - you might just learn a valuable lesson. Like "don't be s-----, retard".

Here4Now writes:

Oh, and East Naples? need more be said????

RealNaplesNative writes:

I guess I'm missing something. What sound fun about dancing around in foam??

baseballlives writes:

The definition of foam party...

"Foam parties, popular in Europe for decades, involve soapy foam sprayed from ceiling blowers onto dancers, who often are clad in swim suits. Foam can reach four feet high."

should have been in the first or second paragraph, not halfway into the article. If you are introducing a new term then define it early. I doubt anyone over 40 knows what this is.

FreshFace writes:

Most people over 40 knows what a foam party is. You'd have to have been living under a rock...oh wait...most of you lame butts have been!

blefebvre writes:

Maybe someone used a soap that had bleach in it! They should have used Johnson's Baby No More Tears Shampoo.

Ny_715 writes:

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say no one here knows what they're talking about#peoplethesedays

Beachglow writes:

s----- is as s----- does.

furball writes:

The tards will be calling Morgan & Morgan for the s----- people. Surely the owner has a big insurance policy, lol, that is why his phone is disconnected.

Heraclitus writes:

in response to anotherPOV:

Here's your sign.

ROR

Next time go with good old-fashioned Wesson Oil.

streetrodder writes:

"Sometimes they get overzealous and the foam gets over people's heads and obviously shorter people are going to get more soap in their eyes."
Short people in East Naples? Who would have thought?

turfking writes:

in response to streetrodder:

"Sometimes they get overzealous and the foam gets over people's heads and obviously shorter people are going to get more soap in their eyes."
Short people in East Naples? Who would have thought?

5'2" is not considered short in Guatemala, me-e-ester! It allows closer inspection of your lovely american turf grass. Aye-YI-YI-YI

BigMunch writes:

I predict a bankruptcy filing and a Sudden change of Ownership

SeeFuture writes:

Great party idea: Let's spray soap in our eyes. Duh...

xx writes:

ummhmm yep... they should have used johnsons baby shampoo, no more tears.

unfatcat writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

airboatboy writes:

.... duuhhh....LMFAO!!!!

Max_Headroom writes:

That kid, in the picture, probably looks like that Saturday and Sunday mornings even when he DOESN'T go to 'foam' parties.

joeblow writes:

Ahhhh...I'm not gettin involved in it.

wentfishn writes:

This is the future generation??

wonderful (Inactive) writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

beetlejuice writes:

in response to wentfishn:

This is the future generation??

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

GadsdenGirl writes:

What a bunch of idiots. This actually made me laugh out loud! Why not have a silly string & candle party! Morons - every single one of them.

Golden_Gate_Mistakes writes:

This is hilarious! These dirt bags have never showered or shampooed in their lives. Their comments had me rolling on the floor.

My niece and her friends were down visiting on spring break. They wanted to visit some local clubs. I told them the locals that visit these clubs are nasty, filthy, venereal diseased grub worms. But, you gotta do what they wanna do. It was worse than I last saw many years ago. The girls left after one hour. Most the guys could not speak English and were so drunk, they should have been arrested and sent to detox. The bouncers focus on hitting on women instead of throwing out the trash. I ended up taking them to the east coast for the week. Was a lot of fun.

Stillinny writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

VivaLaBeachStore writes:

William Kobrin, of Estero-based Beamin Entertainment, is a sheep herding college student that makes thousands of dollars while 'owners' like Senor Hector Florez takes his head out of the foam and back in the sand.

RickScott writes:

Jesus-people are partying with soap and foam? How dumb can you be???????/

just_makin_it writes:

I'm sorry, there are no words for this. I'm laughing too hard anyway!!!!!!

Heraclitus writes:

Scroll down for pictures the NDN did not publish:

http://www.thedouglassdiaries.com/201...

BufordP writes:

wonder if they are really smart enough to go to college???I think by the time I was 1 year old I knew that soap in my eyes hurt..

in the end it sounds like another group of likely candidates for a Darwin Award..

NDNisLame writes:

in response to Golden_Gate_Mistakes:

This is hilarious! These dirt bags have never showered or shampooed in their lives. Their comments had me rolling on the floor.

My niece and her friends were down visiting on spring break. They wanted to visit some local clubs. I told them the locals that visit these clubs are nasty, filthy, venereal diseased grub worms. But, you gotta do what they wanna do. It was worse than I last saw many years ago. The girls left after one hour. Most the guys could not speak English and were so drunk, they should have been arrested and sent to detox. The bouncers focus on hitting on women instead of throwing out the trash. I ended up taking them to the east coast for the week. Was a lot of fun.

cool story bro

guest12338 writes:

I, for one, applaud the Loft for an ingenious solution to an age old problem.

Spray the hippies with soap under the guise of trend… brilliant. Maybe that will finally get rid of the patchouli stench.

Stillinny writes:

Dear NDN My comment was a touch sarcastic regarding the unfettered information dump/stream of consciousness reporting.
I am sorry.
Constructive__________ might repair/improve a problem.
You can't get better with that method of ignoring advice.
Don't make me cancel my perscription to your brand of braincell burning journalism.

Remove that

Stillinny writes:

Hey Wally
Ya Beaver
What was that mom said about we shouldn't read the NDN Paper anymore?
Well Beaver it's like this, Mom didn't go to the public schools and she thinks some of the reporting done by the paper...well she thinks sometimes they don't double check their work before they display it to the public. For example Beav, I'll just crack open the story about soap in the eyes in E Naples. See how way down about halfway through they threw in the Croatian view on soap at discos. Well mom just couldn't figure that. And they remove posts too Beav.

beetlejuice writes:

in response to wentfishn:

This is the future generation??

generation num
n u t
livin w
mommy
wa wha wha wha wha wha
boomerang children
gotta love em
tff!

TsetseFly writes:

I was most relieved to see that the most renowned ambulance chaser in the county Whiplash MIke McDonnel is "on the case". This guy makes Morgan&Morgan look reputable!!

usertom166 writes:

Should have used Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo. "no more tears".

beerbong writes:

Just goes to show. It don't take much to entertain people.

straighttalkinnaples writes:

"Foam parties, popular in Europe for decades, involve soapy foam sprayed from ceiling blowers onto dancers, who often are clad in swim suits."

Although research has yielded no documented case of someone actually contracting an STD in this manner, blog and chat sites all over the Internet provide examples of people who claim to have caught these diseases at foam parties.

YIKES!!!!

naplesbubble writes:

Although the people that go to those parties are not the brightest, it sounds to me that the person that supplied to soap should be responsible. He is a crook to begin with and im sure he went cheap on the soap to save a few bucks. His entertainment company should be held liable.

local0620 writes:

the use of the word "hippies" only proves that the people primarily writing these comments are that of the "older generation" - so, to the older generation that feels the need to sit at home and do nothing else with their time, yes, this is the new generation. we are also the ones working hard as hell every day, getting educations that are double the expense yours were (if you even went to college); we are also the ones working to fix all the problems caused by you and your peers throughout the previous years.
so before you go pointing fingers about "retards" (which, anyone with an education would know is a completely ineffective way to loosely call someone an idiot), realize that you also have a finger pointing back at you.
considering the mass negative reaction that is clearly displayed throughout this thread, you're right: s----- is as s----- does. instead of taking into consideration the physical harm that was caused to - im sorry, was it 40 people? - you sit around and questions the morals and values of these young people - college students, sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, and still have the audacity to call these people "retards."

you've really got to be an ugly person to think this is funny. the victims are not to blame for someone else's negligence or mistakes. the next time you turn to point fingers at someone for being young, take into consideration the inevitable aging process everyone goes through: you, also, were once young. and that's what too many of you jumping to make negative comments seem to have forgotten.

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