Authorities were called to the residence on Robert Drive around noon Saturday
by a concerned neighbor who went to check on the family after they missed some
Firefighters found David Arts, 42, in his bed on the third floor. Wilem, 3,
and his sister Taylor, 11, were found in their beds in a shared room on the
second floor. Ann Marie, 8, and Rita, 33, were discovered together in a hallway
outside the children's bedroom. Everyone but Rita was dead, officials said. She
was rushed to Alaska Regional Hospital, where she remained Monday. Her condition
was not released.
Initial carbon monoxide readings in the Artses' home showed more than 700
parts per million. Levels of 150 ppm are sufficient to kill.
Kempton said investigators did not find any evidence that a vehicle parked in
an attached garage was the source of the carbon monoxide. The car was not
running when authorities arrived Saturday and it still had about a quarter of a
tank of gas, he said. There was no soot stain near the vehicle's exhaust, which
would have been consistent with an idling engine, he said. The car did not have
a remote starter.
The tragedy has shocked Anchorage and Bear Valley, and many residents have
rushed out to buy carbon monoxide detectors for their homes.
A manager at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse on Tudor Road said his store
has sold more than 29 of the devices in the past two days. There are still some
in stock -- ranging from $27 to $40 -- and the store put in a rush order for
more, he said. Sales also were up at Wal-Mart, said Marty Howard, a manager at
the South Anchorage store.
Mayor Mark Begich's press secretary, Julie Hasquet, said the mayor is asking
for donations for carbon monoxide detectors for a giveaway next week. Some
corporate sponsors have stepped up, she said. Donations can be made to the Red
Cross and dropped off at its headquarters at 235 E. Eighth Ave.
"Everybody here is devastated," Hasquet said. "The mayor was
very upset and we all talked about what could we do, and that's how we came up
with the idea."
Tami Powell, who has known the Artses for about 12 years and lives near their
home, said Dave Arts used to be the Bear Valley Community Council president and
Rita Arts was formerly in charge of the local Parent Teacher Association. The
Artses would pitch in to keep the restricted-access roads in Bear Valley plowed
and would help anyone who got stuck in the snow, she said.
"Three years ago when my husband broke his hip, Dave came over to sit
with my husband and care for my husband," Powell said. "They were just
so warm and loving and caring to everyone. They would have helped anyone
in need."Powell said the accident has been difficult for everyone in Bear Valley.
"I don't know how anyone could go to work today," she said.
"They were very well loved by their neighborhood."
Powell said the tragedy has to be particularly hard for Bear
Valley Elementary, where the Artses' two daughters went to school and Rita was
the former PTA president.
Anchorage School District spokesman Roger Fiedler said counselors were on
hand at the school Monday to talk to parents, students and staffers and will
stay throughout the week. "It's a very close community out there."
Officials said neighbors told them the Artses had a carbon monoxide detector
in their home but it was unplugged because they were remodeling and getting
ready to move.
Dave Arts, a cargo pilot for Cathay Pacific Airways since 2000, was about to
move to Hong Kong, the airline's hub city, to take a job as a passenger pilot,
friends and airline officials said.
Nationwide, about 500 people a year die from accidental exposure to carbon
monoxide, according to federal statistics. Kempton said the Anchorage Fire
Department has responded to 144 carbon monoxide alarms so far this year. Last
winter, six people, including three children, were saved at an Anchorage trailer
park after a 911 dispatcher realized a caller and her family were suffering from
carbon monoxide poisoning during the call.
"The only sure way to make sure that something like this doesn't happen
is to have a carbon monoxide detector," Kempton said. He recommended buying
one with an Underwriters Laboratory rating on the packaging.
|This website is designed and run by: Thomas Petito Reardon: a Master Plumber.