Oct. 29, 2002: CO Poisoning Cited In Deaths Of Two St. Louis-Area Residents
Hari Kushwah, 42, and Aakriti Kushwah, 16, were pronounced dead Monday, Oct. 14, at the family's home. Beena Kushwah, 41, and Mayank Kushwah, 15, were listed in fair condition the next day at a nearby hospital.
No CO monitors were found in the home, said Randy Bornhop, chief of the Wentzville Fire Protection District.
"It's the same thing with smoke detectors. We can't push those things enough, and they really do save lives," he said.
Police were called to the home by Beena Kushwah. She told police that her husband had suffered a heart attack. When police arrived, they found the two children and her husband unconscious; she was weak and hardly able to move.
Rick Hargraves, a spokesman for Laclede Gas (local utility), said there was a problem with the heat exchanger inside the home's furnace. The age of the home is estimated at 15 years.
The Post Dispatch also reported that police believed the Kushwahs turned on their furnace the previous Sunday night when the temperature dipped into the 40s. They say that CO levels in the home were too high for the furnace to have just been on for a few hours.
The mother and son each received several treatments in hyperbaric chambers at St. Luke's Hospital. The chambers are pressurized with 100% oxygen, which helps to remove the carbon monoxide from the blood.
Hargraves said families can protect themselves from CO poisoning by having yearly inspections on their furnace and by buying a UL-approved, alarm-sounding detector.
Publication date: 10/28/2002