RICHFIELD — A close-knit community of friends and family is struggling to come to grips with the carbon monoxide poisoning of two stepbrothers who succumbed to the deadly gas in their home.
Joey Julander, 17, and Tyler Utley, 21, were killed. They, along with two others who were impacted, were found Friday evening by Utley's father.
A 19-year-old woman remained hospitalized in serious condition, while a 14-year-old girl was expected to be released from the hospital late Saturday, Richfield Police Chief John Evans said.
"They were heating the house with a generator because the power had been turned off," Evans said. "They went to bed about 11 p.m. Thursday. The father left for work at 6 a.m. the next day and found them when he got home at 7:20 p.m."
The two female victims were friends who were sleeping over, Evans added. The poisoning happened at 241 S. 400 West in a home where a generator had been operating in the kitchen absent any ventilation, he said.
"This is really hard on the community. If they would have had a carbon monoxide detector, it would have saved their lives," the chief said.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, one generator produces as much carbon monoxide as hundreds of cars and an average of 81 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning produced by generators. Brandon Smith, who sells generators at Lowe's, said they should never be used inside a home.
"It pumps out a lot of carbon monoxide compared to vehicles because it's a small engine, so they run 10 times harder than a vehicle would," Smith said.
Neighbor Dawn Allred praised the family and said they always treated her well. She recalled the first time she met Utley, just after a snowstorm, when he shoveled her sidewalk.
"It's just a tragic situation," she said of the deaths.
Evans said the incident has impacted everyone in the Sevier County town.
"This has really devastated a lot of the community because down here, everybody knows everybody," he said.
Contributing: Alex Cabrero
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