Ogden, UT – By Nate Carlisle, The Salt Lake Tribune
The police sergeant fell to the floor unconscious, next to the dead body that drew Ogden police to the house Friday. Fellow Officer Ron Gardiner knew immediately what was happening.
Carbon monoxide had permeated the home, Gardiner realized, and he began removing the sergeant and himself from the house before they died, too.
“If we’d been in there a couple more minutes, we’d all be deceased,” Gardiner, a 34-year veteran of the Ogden Police Department, said Saturday night.
Gardiner, the sergeant and a third Ogden officer were admitted to LDS Hospital for treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning, and were expected to go home Saturday night. The name of the 28-year-old man who died in the home has not been released.
In an interview Saturday, Gardiner, who celebrated his 56th birthday Friday, said the victim was discovered next to a washer and dryer. He and Sgt. Art Weloth were looking at the body and surveying the scene while Officer Bret Connors was in another room. More police were outside the home.
There were no obvious signs of trauma to the victim, and police were pondering how he died. About 18 minutes after police arrived, police received their first clue. “All of the sudden, Sgt. Weloth started feeling light-headed and he went down like a rock,” Gardiner said. “I knew right away what it was.”
Gardiner radioed for assistance and began trying to drag Weloth outside. But Gardiner said he suddenly became light-headed and dizzy, too, and didn’t have the strength to pull him.
Connors arrived, and he and Gardiner each grabbed Weloth under one arm and dragged him outside, Gardiner said. Once outside, Connors lost consciousness. Gardiner said once he left the house, he began experiencing cramping, numbness and shortness of breath.
Ogden police said a faulty water heater caused the carbon monoxide leak, but Ogden Fire Department Deputy Chief Dave Owens said that wasn’t certain and the cause still is under investigation.