Sun, Feb 11, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Carbon monoxide poisoning likely cause of tragedy

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taichung prosecutors said yesterday a woman and her son probably died from carbon monoxide poisoning after using a heater for too long in a sealed room.

"The victims used a heater in their bedroom with the windows and door closed. The heater used up all the oxygen, likely causing their death," Taichung District Prosecutors' Office Spokesman Chang Hung-mo (張宏謀) told reporters yesterday.

He said a postmortem examination would be conducted to ascertain the cause of death.

The victims, Lee Yu-mei (李玉梅) and her 11-year-old son, Chuang Chu-yang (莊主揚), were found dead in their bedroom on Friday. Police believe they had been dead for several days.

emergency calls

Police said there was a record of Lee calling 119 on Monday and saying she was not feeling well.

But when police arrived at her home and rang Lee's doorbell, then tried to call her on the telephone, there was no reply.

Lee's brother, Lee Yu-cheng (李玉振), told reporters yesterday he believed if the police had entered the house the tragedy might have been prevented.

Chang said prosecutors would investigate whether the officers in charge of the case had followed appropriate procedures.

Police said Lee, 52, brought her son back to Taiwan from the US last year and that her husband worked in the US.

They said that based on Lee Yu-mei's telephone records, she called 911 -- the emergency number in the US -- before calling 119.

feeling sick

Lee Yu-cheng said he had spoken with his sister by telephone on Monday and that she had told him she was sick.

Since then, until he discovered her, he had been unable to contact his sister.

He said he managed to break into Lee Yu-cheng's house on Friday and found his sister and nephew dead on the bed.

He added that because his sister did not like cold weather, she had previously asked him to seal the windows in the bedroom with tape.

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