A Washtenaw County couple died at the age of 62 about two hours apart and police believe carbon monoxide was the cause of their deaths, according to WDIV-TV in Detroit.
John Kent and Maria Smith West each died of CO poisoning within a minute of each other Sunday afternoon, one of them in their apartment at an apartment complex, the other in the driveway outside a carport, Michigan State Police said. The couple’s dog, Cheddar, was found dead in their carport when the boyfriend discovered them, the television station reported.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be very difficult to detect because it starts out as a harmless “placebo.” At room temperature, it doesn’t smell or taste any differently than ordinary gasoline. When it heats up to a higher temperature, it smells differently. Once it’s too hot, CO builds up in the system and makes people sick or even deadly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have exposure to CO may be sleepy, sleepy, dizzy, irritable, or vomit. They may also experience headaches, irritability, nausea, lightheadedness, confusion, muscle weakness and even numbness.
Eagle Crest Apartment management tells WDIV that the couple had to be “extreme proactive” in making sure all of their carbon monoxide detectors were working and that all areas of the building had proper ventilation.
“They made it their personal mission to keep their units and their building as safe as possible,” the manager, Michael Covanta, told the television station. “They made sure to clean everything so it could get rid of bugs and rodents. They really went above and beyond.”
The Wests’ daughter, Kimberly, talked to the television station on Tuesday and said her parents were “pretty laid back about everything.” She also expressed her disappointment in learning from her mother that her father likely died of CO poisoning.
“Just the fact that, you know, it’s something that could kill them,” Kimberly West said. “And to finally come to that realization and hear it, it just hurt so bad, the thought of what she had passed away from.”