Local News

Suspected Carbon Monoxide Deaths Await Results

(La Porte County, IN) - Authorities are still investigating the deaths of a man and his wife from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning outside LaPorte.


The bodies of Harrison Russell, 60, Barbara Russell, 56, were discovered Thursday inside the couple's home on 350 North near 50 West in Center Township. A third person found alive was taken from the residence in a medical helicopter.


LaPorte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said an official cause of death was awaiting the results of a toxicology test to determine if lethal amounts of carbon monoxide were in their systems as suspected. Levels of 200 parts per million inside the home were reported by firefighters using devices measuring the deadly gas.


Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski said the township fire department would not release any information until the toxicology test results were known. The La Porte County Sheriff's Office also reported the case was under investigation.


In general, LaPorte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said levels of carbon monoxide, which has no color or smell, become a significant concern starting at 35 parts per million or less. Exposure to such levels over several hours can result in symptoms like headaches, vomiting, confusion, and, eventually, death.


"That's why it's extremely important for everyone to have at least one carbon monoxide detector in their home," Snyder said.  

Carbon monoxide typically gets into a home from a crack or other defects in fossil-fuel-burning appliances like a furnace, water heater, and clothes dryer. However, carbon monoxide can also filter into a home from a motor vehicle left running inside an attached garage for an extended period, Snyder said.

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