Weyers Cave, VA – A mother and son who collapsed from carbon monoxide poisoning Saturday are alive and well thanks to the quick response of an Augusta County sheriff’s deputy and a suspected drunken cyclist.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” said Cpl. Michael Roane. “Time was certainly of the essence, without a doubt.”
Roane was on patrol New Year’s Day at 6:07 p.m. in the Mount Sidney area, investigating a report of an intoxicated man riding a bicycle on U.S. 11 when an Augusta County dispatcher received a frantic 911 call from a woman who told authorities she found both her mother and brother unresponsive inside their home.
Roane said he immediately bagged his search for the inebriated cyclist and sped to Weyers Cave.
“I arrived four minutes later,” he said.
Roane said the 911 caller was standing in the driveway at 108 Harper Street when he arrived.
After rushing through the side door of the home, he found the teenage boy and his mother unconscious. Both were discovered on the floor of a bedroom.
Roane said he grabbed the teen and hauled him out of the home. “As soon as I got him outside, he came to,” Roane said.
Roane dashed inside the home a second time, dragging the woman to the front of the one-story ranch home before asking a neighbor for help.
“By the time I got to the door I was exhausted,” he said.
Firefighters from Weyers Cave arrived on the scene and immediately began giving the victims oxygen.
Readings inside the home placed the carbon monoxide level at 154 parts per million, according to Roane.
“That’s a lethal amount,” he said.
Both victims were hospitalized at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg before being released Monday.
Despite his brief foray into the home, Roane said he too was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning in his system.
“I got a little lightheaded and dizzy,” he said.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
At lower levels of exposure, carbon monoxide causes mild effects that often are mistaken for the flu. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. At higher levels, brain damage and death can occur.
Chief Doug Wrenn of the Weyers Cave Fire Department said firefighters did a pressurized flush of the home, forcing out the poisonous air and bringing carbon monoxide levels down to zero. A subsequent check also revealed a zero reading.
However, a cause for the elevated carbon monoxide level inside the home has not been determined.
“It’s still a mystery right now,” Wrenn said.
As for Roane, “I was just doing my job,” he said. “Any other deputy or police officer would have done the same thing.”