Homestead, PA- The 77-year-old mayor of Homestead, a borough councilman and his friend were all hospitalized over the weekend with carbon monoxide poisoning, apparently caused by a stuffed-up chimney.
Mayor Betty Esper, Councilman Lloyd Cunningham, 61, and Mr. Cunningham’s 28-year-old female acquaintance were taken to UPMC Presbyterian after Mr. Cunningham noticed that the friend had passed out after lying down on his couch to watch a movie.
Mr. Cunningham rents part of Ms. Esper’s house on East 11th Avenue, and the young woman was visiting him, he said.
Ms. Esper, who was released from the hospital Monday, said she had finished watching the University of Pittsburgh football game Saturday afternoon and was preparing to decorate her second-story porch for Christmas when she collapsed around 5 p.m. She said she woke up on the porch, went inside to sit down and then threw up.
“I thought I had food poisoning,” she said.
But around 6 p.m., Mr. Cunningham called her and said he and his friend, Liz, weren’t feeling well and that his carbon monoxide monitor was going off.
“Everybody was a little bit woozy,” he said.
They called 911 and paramedics took them to the hospital. Mr. Cunningham was released later that night; his friend remained hospitalized Monday.
Fire officials could not be reached Monday but told other media they found high levels of carbon monoxide in the house. Mr. Cunningham and Ms. Esper said that the cause was a stuffed-up furnace chimney.
Ms. Esper said she didn’t have her furnace on but that Mr. Cunningham did.
Mr. Cunningham said the old house does have a gas line in the wall for a gas lamp, but he said it was not the cause of the poisoning. He said workmen would come Wednesday to inspect the chimney and his carbon monoxide detector, which he said should have alerted him sooner. He said the old gas line would be removed as a precaution.
Ms. Esper said she was fortunate to have collapsed outside, where the fresh air may have revived her.
“I was lucky I was out on the porch,” she said.