A Thanksgiving family reunion at a Duchesne County, Utah cabin resulted in 19 family members, including 13 children and infants, being hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The incident took place at the Six Lakes Lodge on Saturday, November 18, 2023, where the family began experiencing symptoms associated with carbon monoxide exposure.
The Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office received a distress call around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday. Symptoms of illness had started to manifest among the family members on Friday night. The Altamont Fire Department, along with ambulances from Altamont and Roosevelt, responded and found significantly high carbon monoxide levels in the cabin.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas produced by burning fuels such as natural gas, propane, gasoline, or wood. In this incident, poor ventilation or faulty equipment was suspected to have caused the gas to accumulate in the cabin. Altamont Fire Chief Josh Phillips identified the cabin’s basement utility room as the area with the most concentrated carbon monoxide levels.
The seriousness of the situation became evident when an 11-month-old infant showed symptoms of lethargy and paleness, necessitating urgent medical care. This was soon followed by a 12-year-old girl being discovered in an unresponsive state.
Family members Jade and Cassidee Smith shared with KUTV how they experienced weakness and nearly lost consciousness before realizing the gravity of the situation.
Medical attention was provided to all 19 affected family members, who had dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in their blood. They received hyperbaric oxygen treatment for two and a half hours, a treatment recognized for its efficiency in treating carbon monoxide poisoning. This therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized setting, which accelerates the elimination of carbon monoxide from the body and decreases the chances of lasting neurological damage.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include headache, dizziness, nausea, chest pain, confusion, and unconsciousness, and can escalate to coma, permanent brain damage, or death in severe cases. High-risk groups include pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and individuals with chronic lung or heart diseases.
The incident has highlighted the critical importance of carbon monoxide detectors in both residential and rental properties. The cabin’s detector had batteries but was found to be inoperative, emphasizing the need for consistent maintenance and testing of these devices. Preventive steps include proper ventilation when using appliances that burn fuel and the installation of effective carbon monoxide detectors.
Dave Nelson, representing Six Lakes Lodge, stated that although the scene had been cleared, investigations into the cause of the incident were ongoing. He reassured that other properties had been examined and were safe from carbon monoxide hazards.