Aspen CO victims help spur call for state legislation |

Aspen CO victims help spur call for state legislation

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Holding up an urn with his daughter’s ashes, the father of a 23-year-old woman who died of carbon monoxide poisoning begged lawmakers Tuesday to approve a bill that would require carbon monoxide detectors in new homes and rental properties when new tenants move in.

“This is my daughter today. This is all that’s left of her. … Don’t you dare not pass this bill. Please,” begged Don Johnson, father of Lauren Johnson, who died Jan. 5 at an apartment complex in Denver.

Johnson also tearfully held up a $20 bill and told lawmakers that’s all it would have cost to save her life.

“What’s the difference? There it is. Twenty bucks. Twenty bucks,” he said.

Lawmakers also heard from friends and relatives of four members of the Lofgren family of Denver who were found dead Nov. 28 in an Aspen-area home with high levels of carbon monoxide.

The House Business Affairs Committee delayed action Tuesday because there was no estimate of how much the program would cost.

A similar bill was killed last year because of questions about who would enforce it and whether homebuilders and apartment owners could be held responsible if the equipment failed.

This year, lawmakers decided to leave it to local governments to enforce it. Homebuilders and apartment owners wouldn’t be responsible if the equipment malfunctioned. Both groups said they could support the bill if they were protected.

Parker Lofgren, 39, a founding partner of investment bank St. Charles Capital, his wife Caroline, 42, and their two children, Owen, 10, and Sophie, 8 were found dead at a home outside Aspen over the Thanksgiving weekend. Friends meeting the family found them.

The Lofgrens won a weekend stay at the house in a church auction. The property is on the market for $8.5 million.

A disconnected exhaust pipe on a boiler led to extreme levels of carbon monoxide in the house, an investigation concluded. There was no carbon monoxide detector in the home, authorities said, though the county building code requires one. Aspen and Pitkin County have both since strengthened their requirements for the detectors.

Investigators said a faulty boiler vent damaged during a windstorm may have led to the high levels of carbon monoxide that left Johnson, a college student, dead earlier this month.

Authorities said Johnson died after being taken from a third-floor unit at a Denver apartment complex. She was a first-year graduate student at the University of Denver.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that about 500 people are killed each year in the United States because of carbon monoxide poisoning. It can be caused by a malfunctioning furnace, water heater or stove, or by objects blocking a flue.

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