FL – Sun-Sentinel,By Leon Fooksman
Neighbors thought something was horribly wrong in Oscar and Sylvia Bennett’s home Monday morning when they smelled car fumes in the driveway and saw a liquid leaking from the closed garage.
Moments later, police and paramedics found Oscar Bennett, 86, dead in a bedroom and Sylvia Bennett, 84, lying unconscious in the bathroom. Police suspect carbon monoxide from a car left running in the garage spread into the two-bedroom house at 6100 Peachtree Lane.
“This is a catastrophe,” said Gladys Hueg, who along with a neighbor and the Bennetts’ cleaning woman discovered the couple’s running 2003 Buick. “When I smelled the car outside, I didn’t dare go inside. I just had this instinct.”
Police suspect accidental poisoning, but haven’t made a final determination, Greenacres public safety department spokesman Lt. Kevin Piper said. Sylvia Bennett is on life-support at St. Mary’s Medical Center and isn’t expected to live, said Betty Kanterman, a longtime family friend.
Authorities used the incident to bring attention to the dangers of colorless, odorless carbon monoxide. They said cars should not be kept running in garages that are next to or part of a home. Equipment run on gas-powered engines should not be used inside buildings.
An elderly Delray Beach couple died in their sleep last year after a car was left running in their garage. An elderly brother and sister died the same way in their Tamarac home in 2001.
Why the Bennetts left the car running Sunday night isn’t clear, police said.
Kanterman said a detective gave her this possible scenario: They came home after being out. Sylvia Bennett got out before Oscar Bennett parked in their one-car garage. She entered through the front door. For some reason, Oscar Bennett may have rushed inside without turning off the car. They went to bed, leaving the garage door into their home slightly open. Fumes spread.
When Sylvia Bennett got up to go to the bathroom, she collapsed there.
“I still can’t fathom what has happened. We’re in a state of shock,” Kanterman said.