Cigarette Break May Have Saved Woman's Life

RentalsJohn Anderson

A 27-year-old woman made a terrible discovery in Central California Sunday morning. Investigators say she tried to wake up her 8 and 10-year-old daughters, and found them both dead, along with her mother and brother. Investigators say a silent killer is to blame – carbon monoxide poisoning. They say the woman stepped out earlier that morning for a cigarette break, and the oxygen she received outside most likely saved her life.

“There's a generator in the basement that's probably the cause of the carbon monoxide fumes going up the main part of the house,” says Madera County Sheriff John Anderson.

Dorothy Padgett lives up the street, and says the family rented the property. “It's awful, awful! Just makes my heart sick.”

Power had been cut off from the home since last Thursday, and neighbors say the family had some outstanding payments to the homeowner. “I mean there are fireplaces that heat up,” says Amanda Ruggeri, who lives nearby. “There are fireplaces or wood stoves but if your power is shut off up there you've got to use something to heat your house or else you're going to freeze."

The house did not have a carbon monoxide alarm, and authorities say they believe it was an accident. Crews also rescued dozens of animals from the home, but one dog didn’t make it. The identities of the people who died have not been released.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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RentalsJohn Anderson
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