Disconnected exhaust pipe led to Aspen CO deaths
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” A disconnected exhaust pipe on a boiler appears to be what caused carbon monoxide to infiltrate an Aspen-area home where a family of four died over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis said Tuesday a polyvinyl chloride pipe, better known as PVC, was not connected at the “elbow” point. The critical spot normally allows carbon monoxide from the boiler to flow up through a chimney and out of the home.
Braudis said he was certain the PVC pipe was the source of the carbon monoxide leak.
The pipe extended from a boiler that was part of the snowmelt system used to keep ice from forming on the driveway of the home; the residence at 10 Popcorn Lane is about 4 miles east of Aspen in an unincorporated area of Pitkin County.
The pipe ran through a crawl space that houses mechanical equipment for the home.
The residence is where the bodies of Parker Lofgren, 39; his wife, Caroline, 42; and their children, Owen 10, and Sophie, 8, were found dead. The family died of carbon monoxide poisoning, an autopsy determined.
They were found Nov. 28 in a bedroom of the residence by family friends, who drove up from Denver to share the house with them for Thanksgiving, according to the sheriff’s office.
The bedroom sits two floors above the crawl space.
It was not clear if investigators found a carbon monoxide detector in the home. A Pitkin County building code required homes to have one carbon monoxide detector, although it was not specific as to the location.
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 on each level of the structure.
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.
First responders at the residence reported high and unsafe carbon monoxide levels. Braudis said that the investigation is nearing its end. He said an investigator hired by the sheriff’s office has been in and out of the home several times.
“They were up there [Tuesday],” he said.
Parker Lofgren was managing partner and co-founder of St. Charles Capital, a Denver-based investment bank that specializes in middle-market transactions. He joined four other investment bankers to form the company in 2005.
His wife, Caroline, was active with numerous charitable groups. Their children attended St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Denver.
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