Emily DroobyMay 19, 2018, 6:30 pm

Entire room of patrons at pancake house experiences sudden breathing issues

Patron: ‘All of a sudden it felt like I had a burning in the back of my throat so then I started to cough’

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WEST CALDWELL – An entire room of people suddenly began coughing and having breathing issues at the Original Pancake House in West Caldwell on Saturday. Early reports calling it a pepper spray incident but official’s on-scene said it was not pepper spray, and that the official cause is still under investigation. Officials on scene said there were no injuries.

Several individuals inside of the restaurant at the time of the incident said they didn't see anything sprayed, they just all felt sick at the same time.

"I was just sitting down and then all of a sudden everyone started coughing and then we were the first ones out and I just called the police and told them people can't breathe," restaurant patron Gerard Perillo said. “I didn't see anything it was more of a taste, yeah it tasted like cologne.”

"I started coughing right away, I thought it was just me inhaling some powdered sugar by accident and then there was a young boy probably three years old at the table next to me that started throwing up and then everyone started coughing simultaneously in the restaurant and then everyone basically looked at each other and got up and left at once," restaurant patron David Rudman said.

Patrons said everyone left the restaurant at about the same time. Ambulances did come to the scene to check out the people who were inside.

"All of a sudden it felt like I had a burning in the back of my throat so then I started to cough," restaurant patron Cindy Fichandler Thies said.

The scene has since been cleared but officials said that the health inspector still needs to clear the building before it can open again.

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