Case Studies: Fatal

Susan Henry – Deceased in 2018
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Age: 66
Fuel: Solid
Appliance & Location: Wood-burning stove in her home
Notes by CO-Gas Safety: This case study is written by Susan’s daughter, also called Susan. Thankfully, another of Susan’s daughters survived this incident, as did her husband, although his health is still affected by his exposure to carbon monoxide. The family pets alerted them to the fumes that were spreading through the house and undoubtedly saved two lives, but a carbon monoxide alarm and greater knowledge of the dangers of CO would almost certainly have prevented this tragedy. We are extremely grateful to Susan’s family for their work on this account so soon after such a deep loss.

Francesca Dingley – Deceased in 2015
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Age: 22
Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance & Location: Water heater in rented apartment in China
Notes by CO-Gas Safety: This case study is written by Francesca’s father, Mark Dingley. The investigation into his daughter’s death was very much complicated by the fact that it happened abroad, in accommodation arranged by her employer. Francesca and her flatmate, who was seriously injured in the incident, did not have a carbon monoxide alarm or detector and such incidents are probably more common in China and many other countries.

Angela Pinkney – Deceased in 2005
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Age: 35
Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance & Location: Central heating boiler in her rented home
Notes by CO-Gas Safety: This case study is written by Angela’s older brother, Michael. Angela’s case is one where, sadly, despite the landlady being diligent in attempting to maintain the boiler safely, mistakes were made by qualified professionals. Not only did the boiler receive sub-standard care from engineers, but also Angela herself visited her local hospital with symptoms the day before she died and carbon monoxide poisoning was not diagnosed by staff there.

Anne Brennan – Deceased in 1995
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Age: 20
Fuel: Mains gas
Appliance & Location: Central heating boiler in a student house
Notes by CO-Gas Safety: Anne’s death was the catalyst that caused CO-Gas Safety to recommend that the public only buy and install CO detectors with audible alarms to British Standard, later EN 50291. At the time, disposable detector indicators that changed colour when exposed to CO (black spot detectors) were in wider use. These seemed cheaper, but weren’t over a longer period, and obviously couldn’t rouse victims from sleep or a CO-induced stupor.