Two people who died of carbon monoxide poisoning Sunday were sitting in a vehicle with a faulty exhaust system, according to Kansas City, Kan., police.
An investigation into the deaths of Carolyn K. Williams-Cottier, 26, of Kansas City, Kan., and Trevor B. Roth, 30, of Dodge City, Kan., has been concluded, police said, and the deaths have been classified as accidental.
The two were found dead inside an SUV in a Wal-Mart parking lot in the 10800 block of Parallel Parkway.
Williams Cottier was a mother of two children and did not have life insurance, according to a GoFundMe account that has been set up to help her family with funeral expenses. She and Roth, a friend, had been sitting in the car and talking when they died, according to the person who set up the account.
Police said it appeared that the vehicle’s exhaust system was not working properly, causing toxic carbon monoxide to build up inside the vehicle. The gas is invisible and odorless.
A vehicle safety inspection of the kind required in Missouri could spot such a defect, said Elliot Dill, a service manager at Hyde Park Auto Service in Kansas City. A technician would examine the exhaust system for holes or leaks that could let carbon monoxide inside the vehicle.
Kansas does not require safety inspections on vehicles.
Hundreds of people across the country die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning from a running vehicle, most often inside a closed garage, according to a report by engineers at Iowa State University.
The report identifies several common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning:
▪ Operating a vehicle with a defective exhaust system.
▪ Driving a vehicle with the trunk lid or rear tailgate open.
▪ Driving a vehicle with holes in the car body.
▪ Allowing children to ride under a topper on a pick-up truck.
▪ Warming up a vehicle in a garage, even with the outside garage door open.
▪ Operating vehicles in a garage, car wash, or any enclosed building.