Cass County, IN – An Indiana man is dead and a family of five in the hospital, after first responders found a carbon monoxide leak in their Cass County home early this morning.
Police say they got the call around 5:30 a.m. Friday in the 66000 block of Indigan Drive in Jefferson Township.
At 1:58 p.m. a mailman dropped off some envelopes – the only break in silence along this quiet drive. Just seven hours earlier…
“We dispatched ambulance and fire,” said Cass County Undersheriff Richard Benhke.
Police say one of the Hammang family’s three young children awoke their parents feeling short of breath and dizzy. Both parents also felt sick and called 911.
Medics arrived, treated the family, and found the wife’s brother in the basement – dead.
“They could not find any response and they had to vacate the residence themselves,” said Benhke.
Forty-three-year-old Andrew Weston from Columbus, Ind. was visiting his sister to celebrate a birthday. He slept near the source of the leak, a furnace for the pool heater.
Investigators believe a bird or squirrel clogged up the fuel source, blocking the carbon monoxide emission – something Benhke says would have been caught with a detector.
“It’s very dear to my heart on these cases,” said Benhke. “How important a carbon monoxide [detector is]. That’s why I have so many in my house.”
The undersheriff’s family was also victim to poisoning, but fortunately their alarm went off in time for everyone to evacuate. Now Benhke says he owns six detectors, one in each bedroom and near each appliance with an ignition fuel source.
As early as police responded Friday morning, neighbors in this rural community are just now learning of the tragedy.
“I just heard about it yeah,” said neighbor and family friend Jamison Donoho. “It was a lot to take in. I’m very sorry for their family. You know I’ve known them for years, like ever since they moved in.
The family of five was hospitalized and placed on oxygen treatment. Kirby, the family dog, received a clean bill of health from the vet – after a tragedy that could have claimed even more lives.
Officials say you should have a carbon monoxide detector in every bedroom of your house.
Police say the Hammangs did not have any detectors in their home.