CHICAGO (CBS) — “They were so strong, they lit up a room when they came in. We wish they were here right now, believe me, the holidays are very tough,” Ray Carlini chokes backs tears as he stands with his family less than a month after losing his wife and daughter.
Denise Carlini, 65, and her 29-year-old daughter Morgan Becker, were found in a home in the 12700 block of Shelly Lane on the morning of Nov. 21. WBBM’s Lisa Fielding reports.
“If we had a detector, then we would’ve known,” he said. “They could’ve gotten out of the house and they’d be alive today.”
Carlini, along with the Plainfield Police and Fire Department, the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital & Kidde will be distributing free carbon monoxide detectors to residents in Plainfield.
“CO is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America,” said Neil Zipser, Spokesman, Kidde, the leading manufacturer of home fire safety products. “Each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room.”
“A lot of times we see people heating their homes with ovens, or bring their generators inside the home. That’s one of the leading causes of carbon monoxide poisonings,” Zipser said. “People put on their furnaces and they could be malfunctioning or have a leak. The same with the fireplace. It might not be venting properly. Now’s the time to think about CO.”
According to a study, 50 percent of Americans do not have CO alarms in their home.
“At a minimum, they should have a CO alarm on each level of their homes. Smoke rises, CO is weightless and that’s why there are more CO poisonings,” Zipser said. “High efficiency homes are sealed much tighter. In the past , CO might be able to escape a home but not so much today.”
The community came together by purchasing carbon monoxide alarms.
“We are donating 200 more,” Zipser said. “We hope to get the word out and save some lives,” referring to a GoFundMe page, for Denise and Morgan, that has already raised more than $8400 for the CO detectors.
“The symptoms start out with a dull headache, nausea, fatigue and dizziness. You might just think you’re feeling ill or have the flu. Unfortunately if the concentration of CO is high enough, you might not wake up,” said Matt Louzon, Safe Kids Program, University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital.
Plainfield Fire Chief David Riddle said they will determine how to distribute the detectors based on need.
“We’re not sure yet how and to whom we’ll distribute these,” Riddle said. “But we are going to work with local agencies on what families are in need.”
Carlini said he and his family are happy to come forward to help others and to do something good in honor of his wife and daughter’s legacy.
“All I want to stress to people. If you have these devices and you got them sitting in the closet, or you took the batteries out of them and you’re not using them, start using them,” Carlini said. “You know what, I want Denise and Morgan to save a few lives out there. We can’t save theirs, but we can save somebody elses. They would’ve wanted that.”
The women were found dead inside the family’s home, where lethal carbon monoxide levels also claimed three pets and sickened five officers who responded.
“Never in my life would I think we’d lose not one but two people we love,” Carlini said. “I don’t want anybody to go through what we are going through. Please check your detectors, put batteries in them, buy new ones. Whatever it takes.”
“Tell everyone! This doesn’t need to happen again,” said Jessica Kopycinski, Ray and Denise’s daughter.
“It’s a cheap item, that saves lives,” said Carlini.
Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek said the investigation continues, but the preliminary findings show a faulty boiler is to blame for the deadly CO at the Carlini home.