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An Oklahoma mother is talking about the dangers of outdoor carbon monoxide poisoning after the tragic death of her 9-year-old son.
On June 6, Cassandra Free of Broken Arrow, Okla. And his family were looking forward to a fun filled day on Lake Eufaula. Free’s family and a family friend spent the day tubing and waking up surfing on the water, but towards the end of the day, Free’s youngest son Andrew Brady fainted and fell into the lake. , never waking up again.
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In an interview with TODAY Health, Free recalled that all three of her children, including 15-year-old Jonathan and 13-year-old Blake, started complaining that they didn’t feel well. When the family began to dock, Andrew “crawled to the back of the boat and curled up into a ball.”
“We were packing and cleaning and the kids are complaining that they don’t feel well, they just want to take a nap,” Free said. “My husband raised Blake, my middle son. When he tried to catch Andy, the boat swung and Andy rolled off. My husband, he was like, ‘What the heck?’ “
Andrew, who had been a strong swimmer, neither moved nor attempted to swim as he fell. Free’s husband, Brett, and their family friend immediately jumped into the water to save him.
“They were able to retrieve it, but it never took another breath,” Free recalled. “They did CPR forever, apparently, before the emergency services arrived. Doctors said brain activity was zero. Even if they only had one breath, there would be no quality of life. “
According to Free, someone suggested testing his older children for carbon monoxide poisoning. The results showed that both Jonathan and Blake had acute carbon monoxide poisoning, prompting the coroner to test Andrew as well.
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“His levels were 72 of carboxyhemoglobin, which means that 72 percent of his blood could not carry oxygen to the brain. This resulted in brain death, “Free explained.
The 9-year-old’s carbon monoxide levels were so high, doctors advised Free that when he fell into the water he was “already gone.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), carbon monoxide poisoning in the open air occurs when gasoline-powered boats (as well as on-board generators) discharge odorless, colorless gas to the rear of the boat.
Idling or traveling at low speeds can cause carbon monoxide build-up, something Free said the family didn’t consider while traveling on Lake Eufaula, which has a long no-wake zone, which required Frees to travel. at a lower speed.
To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning while boating, the CDC recommends swimming and playing away from areas where engines discharge their exhaust and avoid blocking any exhaust that can cause buildup. Educating all passengers about the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, carefully observing all children in the back of the boat, and avoiding anchoring within 20 feet of an idle boat can help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
The CDC reports that early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
In August, Free took to Facebook to warn others about the dangers of outdoor carbon monoxide poisoning. Although news outlets initially reported Andrew had drowned, Free wrote that he was waiting for autopsy reports before setting the record straight.
“He was in line at our Malibu Skier for most of the day. The boats, even in motion, create an exhaust stream. Quite right. Exactly what I typed: carbon monoxide exits the back of the boat and pushes back into the back of the boat, “he wrote.” Rear seat riders are particularly vulnerable at low speeds and long no-wake zones like that. that we had to cross to return to the pier “.
Free told TODAY that the adults on the boat on the day of Andrew’s death each had more than 20 years of sailing experience, but were unaware of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
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Free has called Andrew’s life after death “a nightmare,” but she hopes sharing her story can help prevent another family from experiencing a similar tragedy.
“Andy was supposed to grow up and save the world,” he said. “Still can. It can never grow, but it can still save the world. His name will forever be linked to the lives he saved. This has become my mission. To make sure no mom is in my shoes. “