WILTON MANORS (CBSMiami) – Detectives have ruled the carbon monoxide that killed a father, and hospitalized five others, an accident.
The incident happened early Monday after the family's car, a Ford Escape, was left running inside the garage of a town home at the Belle Isle Townhomes in Wilton Manors.
Detectives ruled the incident an accident Tuesday, said they believe the father who died, 43-year-old Louis Argo, was trying to save his family.
Louis Argo's wife, Regina, 37, and their daughter 11-year-old Sophia were unresponsive but still alive when they were taken to Broward Health Medical Center. Regina Argo was later taken to Mercy Hospital for special treatment.
"This family had just come back from a trip. They were unloading their vehicle from the trip, then just accidentally left their vehicle on. It was on for several hours," said Gina Carter, a spokesperson for the Broward Sheriff's Office. "This was a tragic, accidental carbon monoxide poisoning."
Carter said the location of the Louis Agro's body leads investigators to believe he took his last breaths trying to save the others.
"The father realized that something was wrong - maybe realizing that he had left the vehicle on - went downstairs, opened the garage door, and unfortunately he collapsed there near the garage door," Carter said.
The BSO said 29-year-old Kyle White and 30-year-old Michael Gutierrez were found unconscious in the apartment next to the Agros and were also taken to the hospital. A Fort Lauderdale Firefighter-Paramedic was also treated for carbon monoxide poisoning and released.
Deputy Fire Chief of Fort Lauderdale Timothy Heiser said firefighters came upon two deceased dogs in the living room of the home. One cat also died but another was saved.
Neighbors, according to BSO, initially noticed the garage door was left open early in the morning.
"The neighbors were heading out to go exercise at approximately 5:30 in the morning when they first initially noticed that the garage door was left open. They thought it was odd, but went about their business. When they came back from working out, they realized that the garage door was still open. They thought that was very suspicious and that's when they went in and attempted to make contact with their neighbors and then they found the body," said BSO's Carter.
Monday's death and suffering could have been avoided, had the family had a carbon monoxide detector. First responders say they will use the deadly incident as a teaching moment.
"We will take the opportunity after this tragedy to really do a push within the city and the county to get people to buy carbon monoxide detectors," Heiser said.
China McWilliams perused a shelf at a Home Depot Tuesday. She had intended to buy a smoke detector, but Monday's tragedy changed her mind.
"I'm going to get me a carbon monoxide detector," she told CBS4's Gary Nelson.
A combination carbon monoxide/smoke detector can be a bit pricey – about $48 at Home Depot.
Heiser said price keeps most homeowners from buying carbon monoxide detectors, but added, "there is no price you can put on a life."
A quick review of news reports shows in the last week alone, at least fifteen people have been killed across the country by carbon monoxide poisoning in homes.
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