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Four sent to hospital in Kearns carbon monoxide scare

Published: Wednesday, March 13 2013 8:35 a.m. MDT

KEARNS — A Questar worker is being called a hero after pulling an unconscious man overcome by carbon monoxide out of a house Wednesday.

The incident at 4470 W. 5855 South began just after 7 a.m. when a woman in the home called Questar Gas to report some type of odor, possibly natural gas. When a worker arrived, his equipment immediately detected extremely high levels of carbon monoxide, said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Mecham.

The worker told the woman to get out of the house. He then checked the rest of the residence and found the woman's adult brother unconscious in the basement, Mecham said. The Questar worker pulled the man outside.

He was taken to the hospital and at last word was in serious condition, Mecham said.

"My sister-in-law woke up this morning with a severe headache; my niece and nephew woke up with a severe headache," said Kristee Abad. "And then they went downstairs to see how my brother-in-law was doing, and he wasn't doing good."

At first the family didn't think much of it, until they felt more sick as the morning progressed, Abad said.

Two children, believed to be about 11 or 12 years old, had already been sent to school prior to Questar arriving. Emergency crews got them out of school and sent them to the hospital for a checkup as a precaution. The woman and the two children were expected to be back at home by late Wednesday.

Investigators believe there was a "mechanical failure" in the basement — possibly broken piping — that caused the carbon monoxide leak. Mecham did not know Wednesday if the water heater or another device was producing the carbon monoxide.

Abad said the family has carbon monoxide detectors in the home as well as a security system that is supposed to alert a company if something is wrong.

"It is a really close call. They have the carbon monoxide detectors plus they have the system that's supposed to be protecting them even more," she said.

It was unknown Wednesday why that system didn't work.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas, so crews suspect the woman who made the original call was smelling exhaust or natural gas that may have also been caused by the broken pipes, he said.

With daylight saving time starting this week, Mecham said it's a good reminder to all residents to change the batteries on their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors along with their clocks.

The Utah Department of Health reported that 220 Utahns were sent to the emergency room for CO exposure between 2006 and 2010; 15 were admitted to the hospital overnight between 2006 and 2011. Fewer than 5 Utahns have died because of carbon monoxide poisoning during that same time period.

E-mail: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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