The apartment where 18-year-old McQuen Forbush died from carbon monoxide poisoning Saturday had a device that could have saved his life, but the detector didnt have any batteries, police said Tuesday.
Forbushs death at the Sagecrest Apartments on East Overland Avenue was the result of accidental acute carbon monoxide poisoning, according to an autopsy report from the Ada County Coroners Office.
The Marines girlfriend found him unresponsive on the floor around 1 p.m. Saturday. The coroners report lists time of death as 3 a.m.
Investigators initially suspected that a heating equipment failure caused the high level of carbon monoxide in the apartment, and Meridian Police Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea said experts were brought in to test the HVAC system.
The equipment was operating the way it should be operating, Basterrechea said. But theres all these variables we have to try to re-create to find out what went wrong.
Basterrechea said the gas-fueled heating system was the only possible source of carbon monoxide identified in the apartment.
Since Forbushs death, police have received one complaint from a tenant at Sagecrest about issues with carbon monoxide.
Perry Palmer, deputy chief for fire prevention, said the Meridian Fire Department has received eight calls in three years from Sagecrest residents concerned about carbon monoxide levels.
Some of them were unfounded, some of them not, Palmer said. I dont know that I would say that its any larger than anywhere else.
We get calls all the time, especially at this time of year, when heating systems are just starting to be used.
There are 49 buildings at Sagecrest, including 48 residential fourplexes, for a total of 192 units.
Palmer said people should not hesitate to call 911 if their carbon monoxide detectors are chirping. The devices will chirp when sensing, not just when batteries are low.
In addition to testing dwellings for carbon monoxide levels, firefighters can attach a probe to a persons finger to determine the level in the blood.
Palmer said the International Building Code and International Fire Code regulate safety standards for dwellings larger than a duplex. Next year, a new standard will take effect: Carbon monoxide detectors will be required in all triplexes, fourplexes and larger apartment buildings in Idaho.
Fire officials recommend that detectors be placed about 4 feet off the floor, in a hallway near sleeping areas.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413