Sioux Falls, SD- Michael Holloway says his weekend started as usual. His family stayed in bed Saturday while he got up to make breakfast for everyone. Holloway says he realized something was wrong when his daughter said she couldnt feel her legs.
“And then when I got upstairs I heard my other son gasping, so then I ran in there and found him facedown, so then I picked him up and got him away from the vent. And then I started calling to my wife to call 911 and get everybody out of the house,” Holloway says. “And at that time I set him down to go check on the rest of them, and when I came around the corner to the stairs they all had collapsed.”
“I would spend anything in the world for one now and let everybody know they’re very important.” -Marchelle Holloway
Holloway scrambled to a neighbors house to call for help. He says his memory is patchy, but he recalls Sioux Falls Police Officer Ryan Chase at his home. Chase got to the house first; he says everyone suspected poison in the air and he went into the home anyway.
“From the door you could see two of the kids. One was halfway down the stairwell; it looked like hed been walking down and just passed out or went unconscious. There was a little 10-year-old girl who was at the bottom of the stairs; she was unconscious and mom was trying to sit up also down at the bottom of the stairs trying to push the little girl up but she couldnt even stand up,” Chase says. “I mean, you see that and you know its a real bad situation, but its what we do. So youve got to go in and do the best you can and hope you make it out.”
Chase, a neighbor, and emergency responders helped both parents and all four kids escape. Sioux Falls Fire Rescue crews say a furnace is to blame for the leak.
Marchelle Holloway says her family didnt have a carbon monoxide detector in the house.
“You know, Ive been taught about smoke detectors, but I never, ever thought of it,” Marchelle Holloway says. “And I would spend anything in the world for one now and let everybody know theyre very important.”
The Holloways say theyre grateful for first responders who helped them at their home and for health workers who treated them for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jim Sideras says the gas has no color, taste or smell, so a person doesnt notice it.
“Theyre estimating an hour time frame that this happened, so it can build up very rapidly. And what happens is is carbon monoxide binds to you blood and it pushes off oxygen, so you are becoming oxygen-starved. And we have seen cases of this happen in a very short period of time or it can be a long period of time. It just depends. But its serious,” Sideras says. “The only thing you can do is to prevent this is carbon monoxide detector, because thats going to be your early warning. And the key is, we dont mind coming out. If it goes off, call us. If you dont have one, you might not be able to call us and thats the difference.”
Sideras says carbon monoxide makes people dizzy, tired and nauseated. He says it can also cause headaches and difficulty breathing.
The fire chief says people should read instructions that come with carbon monoxide detectors. He recommends placing the alarm near bedrooms, because the sound can alert someone in bed sick with flu symptoms that the problem is poison.