Airdrie carbon monoxide victim remembered as 'a burst of sunshine'
Airdrie Fire Department Deputy Chief Garth Rabel said none of the units his crews entered had carbon monoxide detectors installed.
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After she gave birth to three babies as a surrogate mom, Elysha Schlichter lost her own child in what the mayor of Airdrie described as a ‘terrible tragedy.’
On the morning of Feb. 4, emergency crews were called to a 136-unit apartment building at 700 Willowbrook Road and discovered carbon monoxide readings exceeding 2100 parts per million (PPM) – an “immediate and extreme health risk,” according to the Airdrie Fire Department (AFD).
The maximum allowable concentration of carbon monoxide in a living area, for the short term, is 9 PPM, according to Alberta's West Central Airshed Society.
Residents of the large, four-floor building were evacuated by RCMP and the AFD, and a 12-year-old boy was rushed to hospital in Calgary in life-threatening condition.
He was removed from life support at the Alberta Children's Hospital on Sunday evening, according to Airdrie RCMP and a GoFundMe page that described the child as "a burst of sunshine in the world of anyone who met him.”
Titled 'Support for Trai, Jayla and Elysha,' the page features a portrait of the boy and two women, as well as a picture of the boy in the backseat of a car with a grey-and-white short-haired cat in the foreground.
The campaign had raised more than $11,000 by Monday afternoon.
Police said they are not releasing the boy's name at the family's request, but on Facebook, Schlichter identified herself as the child’s mother and called him “the most gorgeous angel heaven will have the pleasure of keeping.”
“My babe. I'm so so happy you were sleeping and didn't feel a thing,” Schlichter wrote. “Know that you're my everything. I'm so proud that I was called your mommy.”
She then warned others to “take this as a message to ensure safety in your home.”
When reached by Metro on Monday, Schlichter said the couple is staying with family as the investigation by Airdrie RCMP, ATCO, the City of Airdrie and the Airdrie Fire Department continues.
“We don't want to go back,” she said.
According to AFD Deputy Chief Garth Rabel, the apartment complex was built before building codes required carbon monoxide detectors to be installed.
“Unfortunately in this case, there were no detectors in any of the units,” Rabel told Metro. “There may be some in the building, but there were none in the units we were working in.”
He declined to comment on whether or not the unit the boy and his family lived in was the same unit where the carbon monoxide came from, but said the AFD handed out carbon monoxide detectors to residents when they were allowed to return home Sunday evening.
In a statement, Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown said the city’s thoughts are with the boy’s family and friends and urged members of the public to make sure their residence has a working carbon monoxide detector.
“If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, go out and buy one today,” Brown said in a news release. “And if you do have one, take a moment today to test it and ensure it working properly.”
As reported in 2014 by the Airdrie City View, the same condo complex was evacuated on June 5 after a maintenance crew hired to clean the underground parkade used portable generators for power washers, and vehicles were left idling – resulting in exhaust entering the building’s HVAC system.
One maintenance worker was transported to hospital in stable, non-life threatening condition for symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure that included a headache and nausea.
According to the AFD, carbon monoxide detectors should be located on every floor of a home or apartment building, and within three to five meters of sleeping areas.