Carbon monoxide claims life of Shell Lake man Family members, sheriff, others responding hospitalized for effects of gas
SHELL LAKE - A portable gas generator being used without ventilation in the basement of a home is being blamed for the carbon monoxide death of a 32-year-old Shell Lake man. Joseph A. Parker was taken to Indianhead Medical Center early Tuesday morning, July 16, where he was pronounced dead. His wife and two daughters, who were also in the home, were also taken to IMC for cabin monoxide exposure and are “doing as well as can be expected,” according to a news release from the Washburn County Sheriff’s Department. Washburn County Sheriff's deputy Brendan Harrington was among those exposed to the carbon monoxide. He was taken to Spooner Health System for treatment, and several Shell Lake firefighters and members of the North Ambulance crew were taken to IMC for exposure to carbon monoxide as well. All are doing well, however, some were back at the hospital later in the day Tuesday for further examination as they were experiencing some aftereffects of the exposure. At approximately 3 a.m., Washburn County Sheriff’s dispatchers received a 911 call, the caller stating her father had fallen down the stairs and was not breathing. As authorities responded to the home at 109 6th Ave., they requested assistance, believing carbon monoxide was present in the home. A preliminary investigation shows that there was no electricity in the home and a portable gas generator set up in the basement had no proper ventilation to the outside and carbon monoxide accumulated throughout the home. A carbon monoxide reading at the top of the stairs leading to the basement was approximately 790 to 800 parts per million. “One could assume that the basement was much higher, probably double the parts per million,” said a statement from Dryden. Exposures at 100 ppm or greater can be dangerous to human health, according to Wikipedia.com. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas, but, being colorless, odorless, tasteless and initially nonirritating, it is very difficult for people to detect. “This is a terrible tragedy for the Parker family,” said Dryden. “However, we can be thankful there was not further loss of life. Joseph’s wife and daughters could have been victims as well.” Dryden said that North Ambulance crew members, Shell Lake firefighters and sheriff’s deputies, once they knew about the carbon monoxide in the home and understanding the known risk to them personally, placed themselves in danger to help those in need. “Even using techniques to minimize their risk some were still exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide,” Dryden said. “We are so very thankful for first responders who place themselves in danger every day. Until a tragedy such as this, we tend to forget what we ask of them. Our thoughts and prayers are with Joseph Parker’s family.” - Gary King, with information from Washburn County Sheriff’s Dept.