Carbon Monoxide may be to blame for 3 dead

Monday, March 3rd 2008, 6:10 pm
By: News 9


A Carbon Monoxide detector may be purchased at most local hardware stores. Prices range from about $25-$50.

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

Three people were found dead in a city-run apartment building.

Now investigators are trying to determine how they died.

NEWS 9's Charles Bassett tells us why carbon monoxide poisoning may be to blame.

The boiler in the building has shown high levels of Carbon Monoxide and the three victims all lived in units above the boiler room.

Hazmat teams and city inspectors spent the morning running test for Carbon Monoxide at The Towers Bel-Aire Building on North Robinson in downtown Oklahoma City.

"They are investigating all the possibilities and Carbon Monoxide is one of those that they're investigating," Mark Gillett of the Oklahoma City Housing Authority said.

Saturday afternoon Gail Maxie and Claude Maxie Jr. were found dead inside their unit. Police say they had been dead for several days.

The couple lived above 83-year-old Irene Bonitz who was found dead inside her unit last Wednesday along with her cat.

Her family, just returning from her funeral, says they never suspected Carbon Monoxide.

"She would get around real good, but all of a sudden, she just went sour and now we know," Irene's son, Randy Bonitz said.

Bonitz says his mother had been hospitalized twice over the past couple of weeks after being found passed out in the apartment. She was brought back to the unit one day before being found dead.

Oklahoma Natural Gas provides fuel to the building but says the problem appears to be with the boiler.

"There were certainly preliminary indications of Carbon Monoxide, yes, associated with the boiler," Don Sherry with Oklahoma Natural Gas said.

The city is responsible for the upkeep of the boiler.

"We do have professionals who test our Carbon Monoxide levels in our boiler rooms and in other rooms that have gas in them," Gillett said. "But, we do not have Carbon Monoxide detectors in the apartments."

The city could not immediately provide its last inspection report for the boiler.

Meanwhile, this family says they would like to see the city put Carbon Monoxide detectors in the apartments.

"I'd like to hear something that somebody was at fault," Bonitz said.

The other 18 families who lived in the building have been moved out. The city runs two other housing buildings nearby. Carbon Monoxide readings on those have come back normal.

Click to view a Document on Portable Generator Hazards.

Click to view a Document on the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide.