Local News

Carbon-Monoxide Poisoning Under Investigation

Posted July 2, 2007 6:41 p.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2007 7:19 p.m. EDT

— State authorities are investigating the carbon-monoxide poisoning of two members of a janitorial crew who were found unconscious Saturday night inside a tire store.

The men, who were recovering at their homes Monday, were rescued by a father and son who stopped by Atlantic Avenue Tire & Service, 2131 Harrod St.

Brent Crowder, the service manager at the business, said he wanted to pick up a car so he could work on it at home. He and his son saw a man lying on the floor inside next to a floor buffer.

"I said, 'I can't believe he's taking a nap while he's supposed to be cleaning the floor,'" Crowder said.

But Hunter Crowder, 16, an emergency medical technician trainee, sensed something was wrong, his father said. He called 911, and the father and son dragged two men out of the building.

"He was dragging me out, saying, 'Something's not right,'" Brent Crowder said.

Hunter Crowder then administered CPR to one of the men outside, his father said.

The men, who worked for Jan-Pro, were using a propane buffer and were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes, said Allen McNeely, an investigator with the state Department of Labor. He said it's too early to say whether the crew used the equipment improperly or the buffer was faulty.

The incident marks the second time in recent months workers have been overcome by carbon monoxide while working with gas-powered equipment.

Two workers died in February at the Kidde Aerospace and Defense plant in Wilson when they used a concrete saw in an enclosed area of the plant. Both Kidde and an electrical contractor were fined by the state for safety violations.

Jan-Pro officials said the two workers followed the same procedures at Atlantic Avenue Tire & Service that company crews have always used. The company plans to inspect the buffer to see if it wasn't working properly, officials said.

But Richard Leicht, the owner of the tire store, blamed the workers for the incident.

"They were in an enclosed area. It was properly air-conditioned, heated and ventilated, but they didn't open up all the doors and take the proper precautions," Leicht said.

Brent Crowder said he is amazed by his son's quick thinking in responding to the situation.

"Everybody's proud of their kid, but this was an unusual feeling," he said.