A 3-year-old boy in Cleveland, Ohio, died from carbon monoxide poisoning after sleeping in the back of his father’s van.
On Jan. 1, Lorne Johnson Jr. went with his 42-year-old father and 17-year-old brother to run errands in a 2003 Chrysler Town and Country, police say, according to Cleveland.com. When they stopped at McDonalds, the boy told his father he was tired and laid down in the van’s backseat to rest.
Upon arriving home around two-and-a-half hours later, the 3-year-old's father found him unconscious in the backseat with vomit around his mouth, according to police reports. His father called 911 and performed CPR on his son until the ambulance arrived and transported the boy to a children's hospital.
Lorne had elevated carbon monoxide levels in his system, and was pronounced dead at around 1:30 p.m.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal, according to the CDC. It is emitted when fuel sources are burned, such as from cars and trucks, grills, fireplaces or furnaces. The most common symptoms of its poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
A person who is sleeping can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before experiencing symptoms.
The carbon monoxide poisoning the boy suffered was reportedly due to the van not having a catalytic converter attached to its exhaust system, Cleveland.com reports. The mechanical part helps convert carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, which is then expelled out of the vehicle through the exhaust pipe.
"The [car's] muffler was bad when I bought it," the boy's father told WOIO. "I had to get the muffler replaced. The catalytic converter came off a couple of weeks ago. I was driving on the freeway. I been driving it back and forth to school. All of us been in that van going wherever we needed to go."
The father and brother also suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. They were treated and released.
"I'm OK now, but I don't think I'll ever be OK," the father said. "If I thought for any second I was endangering any one of my children I would never got that vehicle."
The county Medical Examiner ruled the boy's death an accident.