Probe into Aspen-area CO deaths continues
December 22, 2008
ASPEN ” An investigation into the Thanksgiving holiday deaths of a family of four at an Aspen-area home has spawned multiple search warrants, as a team of experts continue to seek answers for the tragedy, authorities said.
“They are getting everybody from every part of that system in there to look at it,” said Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Marie Munday of the probe, which began shortly after the bodies were found Nov. 28.
She said the investigation, which is headed by the sheriff’s office, could take weeks or months to complete. Each time entrance is needed into the home, the sheriff’s office is required to get a search warrant.
The list of people who have entered the home ranges from law enforcement officials to experts from various manufacturers and attorneys, Munday said. The residence is located about four miles east of Aspen in unincorporated Pitkin County.
“It’s just huge,” she said late last week on the scope of the inquiry. “There is no reason to rush it and make mistakes along they way.”
The sheriff’s department, to date, has been tight-lipped about the investigation and has not released any details since the first week of December. That is when an investigator found that “a combination of errors” in the electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems caused carbon monoxide to infiltrate the residence.
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The home is where the bodies of Parker Lofgren, 39; his wife, Caroline, 42; and their children, Owen 10, and Sophie, 8, of Denver, were found dead in a bedroom. Friends, who had driven from Denver to share the house with them for the holiday weekend, discovered the bodies.
Autopsies determined they died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
It was not clear if investigators found a carbon monoxide detector in the home. A Pitkin County building code requires homes to have one carbon monoxide detector, although it is not specific as to the location, the sheriff’s office said.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless and colorless gas that is created when fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas and propane, burn incompletely. It is poisonous and can kill cells of the body. It also replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, which leads to suffocation.
When the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the residence on Nov. 28, they reported high and unsafe carbon monoxide levels.
Pitkin County has since strengthened its law regarding carbon monoxide detectors. The regulation requires all residential property owners to install and maintain CO detectors in their buildings ” one near each bedroom and one located generally one each level of the structure. The Aspen City Council is also adopting the code.
State lawmakers have also said they are going to introduce related legislation next month.