2006-05-12 / Front Page

Two workers die in carbon monoxide poisoning accident

By Sylvie Belmond belmond@theacorn.com

Victor Manuel Cortes Monroy, 20 and Jose Luis Cortes Monroy, 25, of Moorpark succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning while they were working inside a home in the 11800 block of Torino Street on May 6, according to the Ventura County Medical Examiner Coroner's Office.

The two cousins were apparently cleaning carpets in the condo to get the unoccupied residence ready for an open house during the weekend.

According to Senior Deputy Medical Examiner Craig Stevens, the victims were alive at about 9:30 p.m. on Fri., May 5 because a woman who was going to clean the condo the next day phoned the men about that time.

When the woman arrived Saturday morning, she discovered both men lying on the living room floor and called the authorities.

On arriving on the scene, the Moorpark Police and Ventura County Fire Department found a truck backed into the condo's garage. The men had been using a gas-powered generator to run the carpet-cleaning pump.

A neighbor who was walking her dog Friday morning saw the garage door open and the equipment running in the garage. But when she came back about 20 minutes later, the door was closed and the motor was still running, Stevens said.

Authorities believe the two workers shut the garage door so the noise of the equipment wouldn't disturb the neighbors.

"Unfortunately, an act of courtesy to neighbors ended up being a fatal error on their part," Stevens said.

The only opening was an access door from the garage to the house. The van and generator were pointed at the door and both vehicles had run out of gas when authorities arrived on Saturday, said Stevens.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas, Stevens said. "It just displaces the oxygen and you'll get sleepy until you pass out and the heart and lungs stop."

The fire department checked the air quality of the adjoining condo on Saturday morning. The air monitor showed lethal levels of carbon monoxide in that unit as well, which would have resulted in death if someone had been there, Stevens said, adding the unit was either vacant or the residents were out of town.

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