Wasilla woman dead in apparent CO poisoning
A Wasilla woman’s death last weekend has been tentatively attributed to carbon monoxide, after Alaska State Troopers and medics responded to her home.
A Friday trooper dispatch said 44-year-old Michelle Ahern was reported dead just before 1:30 p.m. Saturday at her Sage Road home.
“[Ahern] appears to have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning,” troopers wrote. “Her body was transported to the [state medical examiner’s] office in Anchorage for autopsy.”
Carbon monoxide – a colorless, odorless gas found in exhausts from cars, heating systems and fireplaces – can build up unnoticed in closed spaces not fitted with CO detectors. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to the gas can cause symptoms ranging from headaches to death, depending on the concentration and length of the exposure.
Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said in an email that Ahern was found by a family member in the garage of her home “as she was apparently working on her vehicle.”
“The vehicle was not running,” Peters wrote. “It appears that the water heater in the garage had a CO leak that they were unaware of.”
Officials with the state Department of Health and Social Services say that so far this year, the state medical examiner's office has seen two deaths linked to the gas. None of those have occurred in Alaska's largest city, according to Anchorage Fire Chief Jodie Hettrick.
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