A state inspector called to investigate gas appliances in a Meridian apartment where an 18-year-old man died in November recorded lethal carbon monoxide levels when he operated them.
In fact, the inspection had to be stopped twice due to unsafe CO levels.
The inspection followed the Nov. 10 death of McQuen Forbush, a U.S. Marine staying at a friends Meridian apartment. The Ada County coroner determined Forbus died as a result of acute carbon monoxide poisoning. He was found by his girlfriend, who was treated for CO poisoning.
The inspection was done Nov. 14-16 by Jerry Peterson, HVAC/residential energy program manager for the Division of Building Safety.
His five-page report identified a series of things that probably contributed to toxic levels of carbon monoxide and Forbushs death.
Peterson said the furnace did not function properly. He found that the furnace ran even when the thermostat said it should be off and even when the thermostat was removed.
Also, a buildup of lint in the vent system may have prevented the gas from burning cleanly, which could produce higher-than-normal levels of CO.
And weather conditions, including winds and cold temperatures, may have hampered the proper venting of the gas, the report says. Backdrafting may have caused gas to circulate in the apartment instead of out the vent pipe.
Eagle attorney Eric Clark represents Forbushs family and said Thursday he is preparing a wrongful death suit.
Clark said he has been unable to obtain public records related to the death investigation and autopsy. He filed petitions asking the 4th District Court to order release of the police and coroner records.
Meridian police have not finished their investigation, Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea said Thursday.
Matthew Switzer owns the building where Forbush died. His attorney is Michael Haman of Coeur dAlene.
Haman and Clark said experts including representatives for Tennessee-based water heater maker A.O. Smith tested the apartment where Forbush died.
Haman said the water heater will remain in the apartment until all potential parties to a suit are identified, including the building contractor and installer of the water heater.
After a second round of testing, Haman said, the water heater will be taken to a lab in Salt Lake City for inspection.
The Meridian Fire Department told the Statesman in November it had received eight calls in three years from Sagecrest residents concerned about CO levels.
Sagecrest has 48 four-unit buildings. Some of the water heaters there have been replaced in recent weeks, Clark said. He said hes asked Sagecrest Multifamily Property Owners Inc. to retain all of the water heaters associated with calls about high CO levels.
Some residents at Sagecrest received a letter about higher levels of carbon monoxide in their units in early 2012, Clark said. The letter informed residents that CO gas could be entering their units from water heaters.
Residents received CO detectors and were told their water heaters would be replaced next week. The letter encouraged residents to sleep with a couple of windows open.
Adra Kipper, who lived in the apartment where Forbush died, received one of those letters and a CO detector, Clark said. The detector had been beeping prior to Nov. 10, and Kipper had planned to change the batteries, Clark said.
Clark said he didnt know if Kipper was aware the water heater in her apartment had not been replaced. He said he does not believe residents were kept fully informed about what was going on.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413