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One college student dead in Washington, two injured in suspected carbon monoxide poisoning

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(NEW YORK) — One Evergreen State College student is dead and two others have been injured in a suspected case of carbon monoxide poisoning at campus housing in Washington state, the college said.


A student residence manager at Evergreen — located in Olympia, Washington — called campus police Monday after not being able to contact the affected students, according to a release from the college.

A college police officer broke down the door around 8:30 p.m. PT and performed emergency CPR on the students, Evergreen said.

Two students were taken to nearby hospitals in the area, but no information has been made available about their conditions.

The responding officer was also hospitalized but released Tuesday morning, according to Evergreen Police Chief David Brunckhurst.

“This is a tragedy, and we grieve for our students and families,” Evergreen President John Carmichael said in a statement. “The safety of students, staff and faculty remain Evergreen’s top priority.”

The Thurston County Coroner’s Office confirmed to ABC News that 21-year-old Jonathan Rodriguez, from Dupont, Washington, was the student who passed away. The suspected cause of death is carbon monoxide poisoning, but the coroner’s office said it will release an official cause when the investigation has concluded.

The college said campus officials contacted students in nearby campus housing to ensure they were safe. There are currently 2,332 students enrolled at Evergreen State College, according to the school, but it’s unclear how many live in campus housing.

Campus officials said a contractor working in the Modular Apartments housing area of campus responded to carbon monoxide alarms earlier Monday, the college said in its statement. It wasn’t clear if this was the area where the affected students lived.

The McLane Black Lake Fire Department responded to the scene and conducted carbon monoxide testing in the impacted area on Monday evening, the school said.

Washington State Patrol is currently conducting an investigation and will release its findings to the public upon conclusion, Chris Loftis, director of communications for WSP, told ABC News.

“The focus is the cause of the carbon monoxide, what were the events that led it to be introduced into the apartment,” he said. “We’ve brought in an outside group of experts on carbon monoxide events and they’re working with [us] to establish a timeline of what happened, and that’s the main focus, the sequence of events. The timeline, I think, is absolutely critical.”

Evergreen State College did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when someone breathes a large amount of the gas, which replaces oxygen for carbon monoxide, which is carried by red blood cells.

Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous because it is odorless and tasteless, and ingesting too much of it can lead to serious damage and death.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, weakness, dizziness, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and confusion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Everyone is at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, although elderly people and infants, as well as those with chronic heart disease, breathing problems or anemia, are more likely to get sick, the federal health agency said.

Every year, more than 100,000 Americans visit the emergency room, more than 14,000 are hospitalized and more than 400 die due to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the CDC.

To prevent poisoning, the CDC recommends installing a battery-operated or battery-backup carbon monoxide detector and replacing the batteries each spring and fall.

Additionally, it’s recommended to have heating systems and water heaters serviced every year and, if you have a chimney, make sure it’s checked or cleaned every year.

The CDC recommends that if you or another person believes you’re experiencing the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, seek further medical evaluation.

 

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