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Published: Thursday, 3/24/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Autopsies: 4 died of CO poisoning

Generator was being used in home lacking electric, natural gas service

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN AND MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

Toledo Police take possession of a portable generator at 1319 Hamilton St. in central Toledo where a mother and three children were found dead in the living room. Toledo Police take possession of a portable generator at 1319 Hamilton St. in central Toledo where a mother and three children were found dead in the living room.
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Nearly every morning, Taralynn Wood would run to her favorite neighbor's house to say good morning. She'd show up at Renee Thomas' Pleasant Place home, sometimes before 8 a.m.

"I had so much love for that girl," Ms. Thomas said, wiping tears from her eyes and pausing to breathe Wednesday. "It just doesn't seem real."

Taralynn, 10, was one of four people found dead in central Toledo early Wednesday, presumably from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a generator.

The young girl, along with her mother Tamara McDaniel, 39; brother Damien Reyes, 18; and sister Domonique Reyes, 16, were pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. at the home -- which did not have gas, electricity, or water -- where they had lived for only a short time, said Lucas County Coroner's Investigator Steve Kahle.

One of the family members, who Wednesday afternoon was at the Lucas County Coroner's Office to identify the bodies, fainted and was taken for severe distress to the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio.

UPDATE:

Autopsies performed Thursday morning by the Lucas County Coroner’s Office confirm that the deaths of four people found dead in a central Toledo home were caused by acute carbon monoxide poisoning.

The source of the carbon monoxide was a gasoline generator operated in the closed, unventilated house at 1319 Hamilton St.

 

All of the bodies were found in the living room on the first floor of the home, and the generator was in the kitchen, said Toledo police Sgt. Phil Toney.

"Judging by the positions of the bodies as they were found, basically it appears that they died in their sleep," Mr. Kahle said.

The living room at 1319 Hamilton St. has at least two couches and each couch had at least one blanket on it when the bodies were discovered.

The four were found by the landlord, who stopped by Wednesday morning to retrieve the power generator he dropped off Tuesday at 9 p.m., Mr. Kahle said.

By the time Mr. Kahle had arrived at the scene, the landlord had disconnected the generator, removed it from the house, and loaded it on his pickup, the investigator said.

A man who claimed to own the home said he was renting out the property to the victims, who were his friends. The man, who declined to give his name at the scene Wednesday, confirmed he discovered the bodies.

The Lucas County Auditor's Web site lists Steven Snow as the owner of the house, which it says was built in 1894. A woman at his home Wednesday afternoon closed the door on a Blade reporter.

Mr. Snow has owned the 1,180-square-foot structure since December, according to the auditor.

According to Toledo police, it seems the four were overcome by fumes from a portable generator.

"It appears accidental," Toledo Police Sgt. Tim Noble said.

There was no carbon monoxide detector inside the home, authorities said.

Police have in their possession a power generator that may have been used inside the house. No charges have been filed in connection with the deaths.

Authorities with three companies confirmed Wednesday that the home did not have utilities.

Ellen Raines, a spokesman with FirstEnergy Corp., said power was disconnected in January, 2008, as a move out. She said there has not been a subsequent request for power.

Chris Kozak, a Columbia Gas spokesman, said the property has been without natural gas since Dec. 26, 2007. It was turned off at the request of a tenant.

A property owner inquired in January, 2008, about the cost of resuming service.

Mr. Kozak said less than $200 was owed on a former heating bill.

City of Toledo Spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said water service to the house was turned off on May 5, 2009, for nonpayment. There was about $2,200 outstanding on the account.

The homeowner requested Monday that service be restored. It was scheduled to be turned on tomorrow.

Taralynn is listed as a fourth-grade student at Marshall Elementary School in Toledo, while Damien was a senior at Waite High School.

Ms. Thomas said she lived next to the family on Pleasant Place in South Toledo for about two years, until they moved in 2009. Ms. McDaniel, she said, was a good friend. The two would sit and talk for hours. It was nice to have someone nearby who understood what the other was going through, Ms. Thomas said.

"She had a rough life but she turned it around," Ms. Thomas said of Ms. McDaniel. "She was a strong woman. She had to be. She wanted a better life for her kids."

Ms. McDaniel and her ex-husband got along well. They still lived together so their children would grow up with both parents.

"They were friendly, loving, a good family," she said. "They were helpful with everything. If I was shoveling my driveway, they would come help. They were the best neighbors. I would see them still and say 'Come move back.' "

Domonique and Damien would stop by Ms. Thomas' house just to say hello after school. Domonique and Ms. Thomas' 14-year-old daughter, Danielle Thomas-Tyler, were great friends.

Domonique, a younger version of her mother, loved school and took good care of herself. She was very independent, always volunteering to baby-sit Ms. Thomas' 4-year-old son Davonte Thomas. She wanted to grow up to be a model, Ms. Thomas said.

Damien was a basketball star and very well-behaved.

"He was respectful," Ms. Thomas said.

And Taralynn was the talkative younger one she described as a character.

Ms. Thomas recalled that they had fun together while neighbors, including the time the two women ran around the front yard with their children. Everyone was laughing.

"We had to stop and break. We're getting old," Ms. Thomas said with a faint laugh.

Just then, a very energetic Davonte ran to his mother's side.

"He's my heart," Ms. Thomas said of her son. "He feels my pain."

The boy wrapped his arms around her.

Finally, Ms. Thomas smiled.

Staff writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.



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