Family of 6 Saved by a Scream

A mom describes how she was slowly poisoned along with her four children

By Tony Shin
|  Friday, Feb 12, 2010  |  Updated 8:50 AM PDT
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Family Poisoned in the Night

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Family of 6 Saved by a Scream

A mom describes how she was slowly poisoned along with her four children

Family Poisoned in the Night

A mother heard her child's screams before she passed out.
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Mary doesn't want to reveal her last name, but she does want others to know how her family of six almost died from an invisible, silent killer.

"We're still a little in shock," the El Cajon resident said.

It happened Wednesday night as Mary and her husband Howard prepared dinner for their four kids aged two to eight.

"My husband and I were steaming some food in the garage, we had the side door open," Mary said.

Mary and Howard were steaming vegetables in a turkey fryer that was connected to a propane tank. The couple didn't think anything of it as they served dinner to their kids.

As the night wore on Mary said she and her husband both had headaches, so they put the kids to sleep and went to bed.

A few hours later, Mary heard her two-year-old daughter crying. Moments later, she heard a "bloody scream" coming from her five year old son's bedroom.

"I got up and went to him," Mary said.  "Then I felt sick, I went to the bathroom to threw up, I don't remember anything after that."
Mary collapsed onto the floor.  Howard called 911 and everyone got out of the house, which is located in the 1700 block of Outer Drive.

Firefighters quickly arrived and began checking the home for carbon monoxide. 

"I heard the firefighters say that there was definitely carbon monoxide in the home," Mary said.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas that can kill. Mary believes the turkey fryer and propane tank created the gas and the lack of airflow caused it to seep inside her home.

She imagines what might have happened if her five-year-old son hadn't screamed that night and caused her to check on him. 
"It's running through my mind constantly, we're pretty lucky," she said.

Mary said she had thought about getting a carbon monoxide detector, but never did.  She's going to get one before her family goes back home.

The family was taken to UCSD Medical Center for carbon monoxide poisoning treatment.  Mary and her family were released late Thursday afternoon.  They are staying at her father's home for the next few days.

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