Lincolnwood, IL- By Lorene Yue and Nancy Ryan, Chicago Tribune
Two Lincolnwood neighbors died from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning early today when one of them accidentally left his car running in a garage attached to their condominium building, officials said.
Fire officials found the two victims, both men, dead in separate units in the building in the 6400 block of North Cicero Avenue around 4:30 a.m., said Lincolnwood Fire Chief Mike Hansen.
The victims were identified as F. Thomas Bertsche, 73, who lived on the building’s second floor, and Robert H. Goodrich, 78, who lived on the first floor directly beneath Bertsche, according to Lincolnwood Police Chief Daniel Gooris.
Firefighters found Bertsche’s car running in a garage attached to the two-story, four-unit building. The man apparently had forgotten to turn off his car before going upstairs to his unit, officials said.”Something must have distracted him,” Gooris said.
Bertsche was found sitting in a living room chair in front of a television set. The set was on, and a window had been opened nearby. Goodrich was found lying on the floor next to a kitchen table; a window had been opened in that room also.
“Both men were found in their bedclothes, so the fumes must not have been that bad before they went to bed,” Gooris said. He theorized the two men had gotten up to open their windows before being overcome by the fumes.
Firefighters went to the building after another resident called 911, saying he felt sick and feared he was having a heart attack, Hansen said. The man’s wife, however, was incoherent, causing officials to suspect toxic fumes.
“We went out to the engine and got our gas meter and found the carbon monoxide levels were over 500 parts per million,” Hansen told WGN. That concentration of the colorless, odorless gas was about five times higher than the level considered lethal.
The man who called 911 and his wife were taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston. Another resident who complained of feeling ill was taken to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. All three were in good condition at the hospitals, Hansen said.
The tragedy could have been averted if the building had carbon monoxide detectors, Hansen said.
“We require any of our newer single-family residences to have carbon monoxide detectors as well as smoke detectors, but these are multi-family buildings, and we’ll have to evaluate that in the next code revision,” the fire chief said.