3 killed from Antioch Thanksgiving meal ID'd, 2 more victims found

Contra Costa County health officials say 3 have died, 17 were sickened and one person remains hospitalized after eating a Thanksgiving dinner at American Legion Hall. They suspect it stems from a food-borne illness, but could not confirm as the inves

ANTIOCH (KTVU) -- The Contra Costa Health Services department said Wednesday that two more people fell ill after attending a Thanksgiving meal prepared at Antioch's American Legion Hall by a local church last week.

Health officials said 19 people are now known to have experienced health issues following the charity event at the church. County health officials said the two people who became ill did not seek medical attention and have recovered.

News of the two additional reports came on the same day that officials identified the three people who died after attending the event. The Contra Costa sheriff's office said the victims were: Christopher Cappetti, 43, Chooi Keng Chea, 59, and Jane Evans, 69. The three were residents at assisted living facilities in Antioch.

A total of 17 people were sickened, including the three who died, after eating the dinner that was prepared by volunteers with the Golden Hills Community Church on Thanksgiving.

The cause of the deaths and illnesses, which surfaced after 835 people ate the meal, is still under investigation but county health officials said it's likely a food-borne illness.

In a written statement Wednesday, county officials said anyone with leftover food from this event was warned to not eat it and throw it away. Anyone who ate food from the Thanksgiving Day event and is now feeling sick should immediately contact their medical provider and also call CCHS at 925-313-6740. 

Tests of biological samples from the reported cases came back negative for 21 food-borne diseases, including salmonella, E. coli and norovirus. CCHS is sending samples to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to test for other agents that are common but testing is not locally available. Results from the CDC tests may not be available for months. 

"The Forensic Pathologist is trying to determine the causes of death, which are pending the results of various tests," coroner's officials said in a statement today.

Some of the food served at the meal was prepared at the American Legion Hall, some was simply heated up there and some was prepared at the private homes of church volunteers and brought to the dinner, according to health officials.

"Our dinner in Antioch is only one of a number of possibilities that County Health is investigating," church officials said in a statement posted on the Golden Hills website Monday. "We are fully cooperating with health officials and are praying fervently for the families who lost loved ones and for others who are sick."

County health officials are doing "a very thorough job and we are anxiously awaiting news from them," pastor Phil Hill said today.


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