Former tenant: Marine's death from carbon monoxide was preventable

Former tenant: Marine's death from carbon monoxide was preventable

Print
Email
|

by Karen Zatkulak

Bio | Email

KTVB.COM

Posted on December 9, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 10 at 6:00 PM

Meridian -- New information has come to light in the death of a 18-year-old Marine who authorities say was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.

A former resident at the Meridian apartment complex where McQuen Forbush died says his death was preventable.

Forbush died on November 10th. Authorities said it was a high level of CO that took his life while he was staying at a friend's apartment.

Recently, our 7 Investigation confirmed that the complex had posted a letter warning residents of carbon monoxide issues in many of their units.

These details are raising the question of whether Sagecrest Apartment managers were aware of situation before Forbush's death.

Similar Scares

Molly Collins tells us she and her 18-year-old daughter lived at Sagecrest Apartments for about six months. Collins says during that time, their personal carbon monoxide detector went off four times.

She says it could have been her or her daughter whose life was taken by the deadly gas.

"I was in that situation, there by the grace of God, it could have been my daughter or myself," said Collins.

Collins tells us the second time their detector sounded, her daughter was home alone. Collins says paramedics found a high level of carbon monoxide in her daughter's system.

KTVB obtained the fire department's reports which confirm that CO was detected in the Collins' unit.

The fourth time the detector sounded, Collins herself felt the symptoms.

"There was a high enough level in my blood that they said it was pretty close to, at that point, where they would usually send people to the ER, but they kept monitoring it and it was going down," said Collins.

Collins tells us every time firefighters found carbon monoxide in her home, she reported it to the apartment's property manager. However, she says nothing was ever done to remedy the situation. "I don't feel like they really did handle it, they really didn't respond, my emphasis is on they knew there was a problem in these units and they knew I was having a problem and they didn't come in and inspect."

Collins tells us she talked to firefighters, the maintenance person, several on-site managers, and requested to speak with someone higher up at First Rate Property Management.

Yet, Collins says she got no response until after the fourth incident. She says that's when her water heater was finally replaced.

She says after her experience, she's certain the apartment complex could have done more to fix the carbon monoxide leaks.

"I really felt like more could have been done, and this was preventable, this was a preventable and negligent death."

Property Management: No Response

KTVB called First Rate Property Management again, to give them a chance to respond to Collins' claims.

The General Manager said she was not allowed to answer our questions.

We also contacted First Rate Property Management's owner by phone. He told us he wished he could comment, but said he could not.

Collins' Reports Alert Fire Department

Last week, the Meridian Fire Department told us there were five carbon monoxide calls made to their department from the complex, in the last two years.

They went on to say that number was normal, and showed no cause for concern.

But after talking with Collins, we went back to the Fire Department.

This time, we learned that Collins' reports had alerted one of their firefighters about a month before Forbush's death.

"The red flag went off in his mind that maybe there was something going on that hadn't been addressed, and that's when our fire marshal got involved," said Meridian Fire Chief Mark Niemeyer.

Niemeyer explained that their role is to respond to calls, not investigate. He says following up on carbon monoxide calls falls on the owner of the property and often involves the gas company.

Niemeyer also says fire department officials did meet with the property manager to make sure they were handling the situation. He says, "We were advised that they had been looking into that for about a year, that they had already addressed trying to change out some of the water heaters they found that were possibly faulty."

Niemeyer says their department felt confident in that response, but says the property managers did admit that not all the faulty water heaters had been replaced.

"They did tell us they were in that process, they hadn't all been replaced yet," said Neimeyer.

Safety Concerns

While we still don't know if the water heater that led to Forbush's death had been replaced, Collins feels the complexes lack of response was a disregard to their tenants' health.

She moved out of Sagecrest Apartments the very same day she found out Forbush had died just doors away. "I'm devastated by it, saddened, angry."

Now, she says she not only worries about Forbush's family, but also those still living at 1805 East Overland.

"It's so awful and I'm fearful," said Collins. "I think nobody should live there unless it's been completely fixed."

Collins hopes her experience makes everyone at that complex, as well as those living elsewhere, realize the importance of carbon monoxide detectors.

The Fire Department tells us the complex did work to get ceiling carbon monoxide detectors installed in all their units.

Collins tells us the detector that went off in her apartment was a personal one she had bought to plug in to the wall.

The Fire Department does recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector several feet above the floor.

Print
Email
|