Lawrence, KS – The Lawrence Journal – Two girls from Atchison County were taken to the hospital during the weekend after being exposed to carbon monoxide while sleeping in a cabin of a boat on Perry Lake.

“There was quite a bit of concern that this was going to be a life-threatening situation for one if not both of the children,” said Con Olson, a paramedic with Jefferson County Emergency Services. “Fortunately, they were discovered soon enough.”

The scare came almost exactly a year after Melissa Kennedy, 34, of Holton, succumbed to the odorless, colorless gas and drowned at Perry Lake on July 4, 2004.

Kennedy had been swimming in an area where carbon monoxide fumes from a group of idling boats had built up over the water.

The girls, ages 7 and 9, were sleeping in a lower cabin area of the boat about 11:45 p.m. Friday when a parent came downstairs to check on them and found them disoriented, Olson said.

The girls were in critical condition when ambulances met the boat at the lake’s marina, he said.

He said the girls were taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and released.

Olson said the source of the fumes was the boat’s generator. He said the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks was investigating what went wrong, but an update from the agency was not available Tuesday.

Pam Chaffee, a staff officer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, said the cases show the importance of using proper ventilation and carbon monoxide detectors while boating.

“Wherever exhaust comes out of the boat or the generator, you need to stay away from that area or try to do something where it can escape and get away from the boat,” she said.