YREKA, Calif. — An investigation of two people found dead in rural Siskiyou County early this week has concluded that their deaths were accidental — the result of carbon monoxide, according to a statement from the Sheriff's Office.
Deputies responded just after 9:30 p.m. on Monday night to a structure in the 13000-block of County Road A-12 in the Mt. Shasta Vista area after learning that there were two bodies inside, apparently discovered by a family member. The two people were found in bed.
When deputies arrived, they found a heater inside powered by a 20-pound propane tank — an indicator, the Sheriff's Office said, that carbon monoxide may have been a factor in both deaths.
The victims were identified as 66-year-old Chengfang Su and 66-year-old Yangmel Wang, both from the Sacramento area.
The official cause and manner of both deaths remained undetermined until an autopsy could be completed, scheduled for Wednesday in Yreka. On Friday, the Sheriff's Office revealed the results.
"Based on evidence developed during the investigation and an autopsy conducted on March 11, SCSO investigators determined the deaths were caused by exposure to CO fumes emitting from the heating appliance found in the structure," the Sheriff's Office said.
“We are saddened by the death of the victims involved in this case. Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to both decedents, their families, and friends," said Sheriff Jon Lopey. "I would like to take this opportunity to remind residents that carbon monoxide deaths pose a serious public health risk to our residents, especially this time of the year when temperatures can drop to lower, often freezing temperatures."
Carbon monoxide deaths are usually caused by the improper use of heating devices that emit CO gas fumes, particularly in an enclosed area without proper ventilation. On top of that, CO is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. It is less dense than air and can cause disability or death.
"The Sheriff’s Office investigated one intentional and four accidental CO deaths last year," Lopey continued. "We should all remember that virtually all CO-related deaths are preventable.”
Many household items can create deadly CO fumes, including gas and oil-burning furnaces, portable generators, charcoal grills, lanterns, unvented or subserviced wood burning stoves, and similar heating devices. According to the Sheriff's Office, the following tips can help prevent the needless injuries and deaths caused by CO in our communities:
- Ensure your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances are serviced by a qualified technician once a year.
- It is highly recommended that battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors be installed in your home and check or replace the battery when you change your clocks each spring and fall.
- If the CO detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1.
- Seek medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning. Symptoms include a dizzy, light-headed, and/or a nauseated feeling.
- Never use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, and garage or near a window of any structure you occupy, including travel trailers, campers, or similar enclosures.
- Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the garage door open.
- Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
- Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
- If you use a generator near your home, ensure it is located at least 20 feet away from the structure, doors, and windows.
- Carbon monoxide can’t be seen, can’t be smelled, can’t be heard, BUT CAN BE STOPPED by following some of these suggestions.