Charlotte, NC – A 5-year-old girl is credited with saving the lives of a large family and their neighbors from potentially lethal carbon monoxide poisoning.

Rudra Kuikel calls his daughter Dikshya a hero. He said if she hadn’t woken up around 3 a.m. Monday to go to the bathroom, the entire family and their next-door neighbors might be dead.

Kuikel said after he was awakened, he noticed the little girl and his wife struggling to stand in the bathroom. The little girl then fell on the floor, and her mother fell on top of her. The daughter started crying, and other family members woke up. An aunt called 911 and Kuikel followed with a call of his own, he said.

“When I saw the other members collapsing one by one, falling one by one, I thought there must be something serious going on,” Kuikel said.

Firefighters said the carbon monoxide levels in the apartment were lethal. Seven people were taken to Presbyterian Hospital, three in serious condition. They all survived and were released.

“Had they not called 911 or asked for our assistance, it could have been a tragic situation,” said Capt. Rob Brisley with the Charlotte Fire Department.

Firefighters say the carbon monoxide came from a faulty wall heating unit in their apartment. The fire department says the Kuikels didn’t have a carbon monoxide detector.

“No carbon monoxide alarms were present, and that’s a challenge. We know that everybody should have a carbon monoxide and a smoke alarm,” Brisley said.

It’s a code violation for apartments that don’t have carbon monoxide detectors.

Birchcroft Apartment management isn’t talking, but code enforcement says it’s working with them. Apartments have 24 hours to fix problems that are considered life-threatening.