Samsula, FL – The Daytona Beach News, By Dinah Voyles
Four grateful bikers were counting their blessings Saturday night after nearly losing their lives to carbon monoxide poisoning hours earlier.
Jeff McClanahan, whose wife died tragically 2 1/2 years ago, now thinks he owes his life to her. He was sound asleep in a motorcycle trailer with his brother and two friends when he says he saw his wife’s face and heard her say “Jeff, wake up.”
He woke up and walked to the restroom. When he got back, he passed out, falling backward into the trailer and onto his brother Eddie, waking him up. And that saved all their lives.
All four were treated at local hospitals. McClanahan, 43, and his brother Eddie, 44, said they were treated in a hyperbaric chamber at Central Florida Regional in Sanford. Their friends, Troy McIlveen, 43, and Bill Swallow, 38, were taken to Halifax Medical Center. McIlveen was airlifted.
By 8 p.m. they were back at their Tomoka Farms Road campground musing over the day’s events.
Three live near Cleveland and arrived here Thursday with Eddie McClanahan, who lives in Spring Hill on Florida’s West coast.
Exhausted, they fell asleep Friday night watching the movie “Jeepers Creepers” on a portable disc player and forgot to turn off the propane space heater.
McClanahan and McIlveen were told they had near fatal levels of carbon monoxide. All were told they had six to seven times the normal level of carbon monoxide in their blood.
In 2001 and 2002, an average of 480 people died each year in the United States from carbon monoxide inhalation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 15,000 were treated in 2003 after inhaling the colorless, odorless gas.
When Eddie woke up Saturday and found his brother having convulsions at the door, he woke Swallow up and they called 911.
Rescue workers arrived in five minutes. Then Eddie passed out.
The men said they were thankful Swallow sleeps with the covers over his head and got a lower dose of poison. He was the one with the presence of mind to call 911 and go looking for McIlveen when he didn’t return after leaving the trailer when they finally woke him up.
“If it wasn’t for him knowing I went to the bathroom I would have died in a Porta-Potty,” McIlveen said.
All four are fathers and had much to reflect on Saturday night.
“Every day is going to be a good day from now on,” Swallow said.
The men used the heater briefly the night before but turned it off. Still, two of them woke up with headaches. Now they realize they probably were poisoned the night before, even though they kept the trailer door open “a crack” both nights.