4 dead in home; carbon monoxide eyed, car running in garage

Bystanders gather at the scene where four people were found dead Friday, April 10, 2015, in the Floral Park neighborhood in New York, next to Long Island's Nassau County. Police say the four people in their 70s and 80s have been found dead in an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was left running in an attached garage. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)
Bystanders gather at the scene where four people were found dead Friday, April 10, 2015, in the Floral Park neighborhood in New York, next to Long Island's Nassau County. Police say the four people in their 70s and 80s have been found dead in an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was left running in an attached garage. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)

NEW YORK (AP) – Four elderly people were found dead in a home on Friday in an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was left running in an attached garage, police said.

The victims were an 80-year-old woman and her 83-year-old husband, a 70-year-old female tenant and a 76-year-old female friend of the couple, police said. They were found Friday afternoon when a relative of the couple went to check on them because they hadn’t answered the phone at their Queens home.

Neighbors lined the streets and sidewalks in the suburban Floral Park neighborhood next to Long Island’s Nassau County. Some cried as police officers and firefighters walked around the Cape Cod-style, two-story home.

Police had not publicly identified the victims, but neighbor Helga Harter said two of them were Jerry Hugel and Marie Hugel, whom she had known for 40 years.

“They were wonderful people,” Harter said through tears as she stood on a street corner, looking at the home. “They were married for 60 years.”

The Hugels had five children, including a son who’s a New York Police Department officer, Harter said. The president of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association, Ed Mullins, said members’ thoughts and prayers were with the family.

Harter described the Hugels as a “great family” very active in the local German community. She last saw them on Wednesday at a meeting of a Bavarian dancing and cultural organization.

“I’m in shock,” Harter said. “It’s the greatest shock of my life.”

Jerry Hugel had been the president of the Bavarian group, the Schlierachtaler Stamm, for more than 40 years until 2013, its website and a member said. He and his wife “were the backbone of everything,” member Kathy Fetzer said.

Jerry Hugel moved from Germany to the U.S. in his youth, and Marie Hugel was of Austrian descent, she said. They were always ready to take on anything that needed doing for the organization and had passed the traditions on to their children, she said.

“They just held everything together and made sure it was done right,” she said.

The husband was found next to the running car in the garage, and the wife was in a kitchen in the basement, police said. The family friend was in a living room on the first floor, and the tenant was on the first floor, police said.

Carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless gas, is created when some fuels are burned. The deaths come on the heels of other carbon monoxide exposures that killed at least 10 people on the Eastern Seaboard.

A man and his seven children were found dead Monday in Princess Anne, Maryland, where they apparently were poisoned in their sleep while running a generator after a utility cut power to their home. And a woman and her 7-year-old daughter were found poisoned Wednesday in their home in East Orange, New Jersey, where prosecutors said a utility company had shut off power and a gas generator was being used without proper ventilation.

City Councilman Mark Weprin, who represents the area including Floral Park, said he hoped the tragedy would shed light on the importance of having and maintaining carbon monoxide detectors.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families of the victims,” he said in an emailed statement.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


WKBN 27 First News provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. No links will be permitted. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s