Oct 27, 2021

Police: Family in SW Kan. remains critically ill from CO exhaust

Posted Oct 27, 2021 7:00 PM

FORD COUNTY— Five family members continue fighting for their lives after being sickened by carbon monoxide at a home in southwest Kansas.

Just after 4a.m. Monday, fire crews, police and EMS responded to the 100 block of 16th Avenue in Dodge City for a report of dead people inside the house.

 Once officers arrived they were able to see two subjects through the window slumped over just inside the living room entrance area of the house.

Officers made entry noticing that the two subjects appeared to be breathing very shallow. As they opened the door they immediately smelled the familiar odor of thick vehicle exhaust in the air.

As the officers grabbed up both subjects they saw a third. They got the two of them outside to the front yard. They returned inside to get the third and while inside they saw the door between the house and the garage was open and saw another subject in a vehicle inside the closed garage.

Dodge City Fire Department arrived on scene as they came out with the third subject. Officers informed DCFD personnel who then entered equipped with a breathing apparatus.

They opened the overhead garage door for police officers to enter and recover the man from the vehicle.

Fire crews searched the remaining rooms and found a fifth subject in a bedroom and carried him out of the house.

Ford County Fire and EMS arrived on the scene and loaded the five victims in ambulances and got them to Western Plains Medical Center. They were flown out to multiple locations from there.

All five subjects were still alive at the time of removal from the house but the prognosis at this point is not good.

DCPD detectives are investigating the case.  At this time, this appears to be a tragic accident caused by one subject running the vehicle inside the closed garage. The fumes filled the residence through the open interior door and made the others sick to the point of unconsciousness before ever realizing what was happening and why.

One subject was on the phone with his mother in Guatemala when he passed out. His mother tried for over two hours to get help from friends in Dodge City before reaching the friend who originally found them and called police.

At this time, we understand the victims to be adult males, four of them are brothers, the fifth is an adult son of one of them. 

The Dodge City Fire Department reminded the public that a running vehicle inside of a garage can and will produce high amounts of Carbon Monoxide that will make its way into the house.

They offered some ways to prevent this from happening by avoiding certain activities can help prevent build-up of carbon monoxide.

Don't run your car in an enclosed space, even if it is a garage with the garage door open. Pull the car out or shut the car off.

Don't use a charcoal or gas-powered grill inside your house or inside a tent. Use it outside or under a shelter with plenty of room for cross-ventilation such as natural wind and fresh air.

Have your heating equipment checked regularly by professionals, according to the manufacturer's instructions.

An undersized exhaust vent in a water heater or furnace can interfere with the removal of carbon monoxide, causing a backflow into your home. If you replace a furnace or gas-powered device, ensure the exhaust system is up to current code standards.

Just like there are smoke detectors, there are also carbon monoxide detectors. They look similar to smoke detectors. You may be able to purchase a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Some may plug into the electrical outlet, while some may operate on batteries alone. It is recommended to have some of both in your home. Have one installed near your sleeping area. Have additional ones installed on each level of your home.

The Dodge City Fire Department as well as Developmental Services will install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors free of charge.

What to do if you think you have a Carbon Monoxide exposure:

You and all persons in your home should leave immediately. Go outside and breathe some fresh air. Call 911 and request the fire department. If anyone is nauseated, dizzy, unusually sleepy or unconscious, tell them you need an ambulance as well.

Stay outside until the fire department arrives. Do not go back inside the house, whether you begin to feel better or not.