Officials have credited a “significant failure” in a heating system for contributing to the tragic death of an Arizona family staying in a vacation cabin owned by a friend.
An officer conducted a welfare check at the Parks vacation cabin where the Capitanos, a family of four from El Mirage, were staying. According to the Arizona Daily Sun, a family friend requested the check when they were unable to make contact with the family over a period of several days.
The Ponderosa Fire Department was contacted after the deputy sent to conduct the check requested additional units upon the discovery of a noticeable odor of gas. The fire department put on protective gear and found the bodies of the family inside.
The deceased were: Anthony Capitano, 32, Meaghan Capitano, 32, Lincoln Capitano, 4, and Kingsley Capitano, 3.
Since the discovery of the family’s bodies, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office has stated its belief that the family may have perished from carbon monoxide poisoning.
12 News reported that a heating specialist inspected the cabin on Tuesday and found “significant failure” in the heating system, backing the carbon monoxide poisoning explanation. CCSO spokesperson Jon Paxton shared the opinion held by authorities later that day.
“We investigate everything like it’s a crime,” he said. “Right now we are leaning towards accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, but we will leave the final decision to the medical examiner’s office.”
Ponderosa Fire Chief Lee Antonides explained that gas may have leaked from a propane furnace inside of the cabin.
“It depends on how strong the smell is, how rich and when the furnace was last serviced,” he said. “Sometimes you can smell it, and sometimes you can’t.”
While some gas leaks can be detected by smell, the odorless and colorless nature of carbon monoxide has given it a reputation as a “silent killer.”
“It’s important to, if you’re renting a place you’re not familiar with, to ask when the last time the furnace was inspected,” Paxton warned. “Ask if there’s a carbon monoxide detector in the house, and if there is, make sure it functions.”