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Man dies from indoor barbecue

Posted: Friday, Jan 18th, 2013


Watsonville Fire Capt. Kirt Vojvoda talks about the importance of carbon monoxide alarms. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian).


WATSONVILLE — A Watsonville man died late Wednesday night after he went to sleep with a charcoal barbecue burning in his home, police said.

Watsonville Police, Fire and American Medical Response paramedics responded to a home on the 100 block of Jeanette Way at 10:15 p.m. to a report of a man not breathing, Sgt. Morgan Chappell said. When officers and paramedics arrived they found a 21-year-old male victim in his bed in a detached room to the rear of the residence.

The victim was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.

An investigation revealed that the victim and a second 21-year-old man shared the same room, and had brought a small charcoal burning barbecue grill into the room with them for heat, Chappell said.

The first man died sometime during the night and police believe it was accidental. The second man survived, but appears to be a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. The surviving victim was taken to an area hospital for treatment. Police said the men were not planning on sleeping when they brought the barbecue indoors, but eventually, they both fell asleep.

A neighbor, who chose not to be identified, said an extended family has lived at the home more than two decades.

An autopsy will be performed on the deceased to determine the exact cause of death, but carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, Chappell said.

“The Watsonville Police Department would like to warn against bringing heating sources into the home (or any enclosed space), that are not designed for that specific purpose,” Chappell said. “Also, never use charcoal barbecues, propane heaters, un-vented gas heaters or gasoline powered machinery such as generators, indoors or in garages or carports.”

Chappell further warned that it is not safe to use such devices too close to windows or air intakes.

“Doing so may release carbon monoxide, an odorless, invisible gas that can cause death within minutes,” Chappell said.

Watsonville Fire Capt. Kirt Vojvoda advised the public to follow manufacturer’s instructions with such devices. He also referenced the recent enactment of Senate Bill 183, now a law that requires all existing single-family dwellings that contain a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage to install CO alarms. As of Jan. 1 SB 183 includes all multi-family dwellings as well.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the WPD Investigations Unit 768-3352 or the Crime Tip Line, 768-3544.

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