MERIDIAN – Authorities say there were no batteries in the carbon monoxide detector inside the apartment where an 18-year-old Marine died of carbon monoxide poisoning Saturday.
On Tuesday, the Ada County coroner confirmed that 18-year-old McQuen Forbush died of acute carbon monoxide poisoning.
Forbush was on military leave and staying at his girlfriend’s Meridian apartment when the tragedy occurred.
Two major questions surrounding Forbrush's death remain unanswered.
Exactly what caused the deadly carbon monoxide leak from the water heater in the apartment unit?
Could this tragic death have been prevented?
Authorities tell us there was a carbon monoxide detector in the apartment, but it never went off.
"There was a detector there, we understand that the batteries were taken out, which is very common," said Meridian Fire Chief Mark Niemeyer. "People do get annoyed by those chirping sounds, but batteries in those alarms will save lives."
Fire officials say a water heater malfunctioned, causing the poisonous gas to get out at a high level.
Police investigators are looking into what happened. They are talking with heating and cooling experts, as well as professional builders.
"We're trying to recreate and see exactly what could've gone wrong," said Meridian Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea. "Is it a design flaw on placement? There's just so many things out there."
Police say they're still unsure whether if there could be any criminal charges in this case, or if it was an unpreventable accident.
Meanwhile, there is concern about the safety of nearby apartments.
"We can't say one way or the other whether somebody in another apartment is more at risk than the apartment next door; we just can't make that determination," said Basterrechea.
He says the only way to fight the poisonous, odorless, tasteless gas is a working carbon monoxide detector.
"To those have alarms in place, take those preventative measures up front, don't wait for something tragic to happen before you take any type of measure like this," said Basterrechea.
Niemeyer says stricter laws requiring the devices could be on their way.
"I think it could make a big difference, certainly we see a lot more gas appliances now within homes, within apartment complexes, and the only way to detect that gas is with a carbon monoxide detector," said Niemeyer.
Idaho's Division of Building Safety said there is a provision on the 2012 State Fire Code that would require carbon monoxide detectors in multi-family dwellings. Their spokesperson says that would apply to any new building with a fuel burning appliance or attached garage.
We're told the measure must still be adopted by the board, then approved by the Idaho Legislature.
NewsChannel 7 did reach out to the apartment complex again today for a comment, but did not hear back from them.
Meridian Police tells us they did talk with a former resident of the complex who said they also had a carbon monoxide issue in the past.