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Girl drowns in Lake Powell after boat’s exhaust fumes render her unconscious

A Flagstaff, Ariz., girl drowned in Padre Bay after carbon monoxide from the motor of a boat poisoned her Saturday morning in Lake Powell.

Megan Evans, 7, was swimming with her friend, Kayleen Tubbs, also 7, near two 30-foot cabin-cruiser boats on the shoreline near their campsite, according to the National Park Service. Kayleen’s mother was showering, using water heated by the boat motor, when she noticed her daughter unconscious in the water.

She rescued Kayleen, who quickly regained consciousness. Megan was later found unconscious at the lake bottom, in water between 5 and 10 feet deep.

Both girls were flown to Page Hospital in Arizona, where Megan died. Kayleen recovered under oxygen treatments.
National Park Service authorities said the girls, both of Flagstaff, suffered poisoning from odorless, colorless carbon monoxide, which can collect near the swim platform of some boats.

Park rangers and the public have become more aware in recent years of the dangers of carbon-monoxide emissions from engines, a problem blamed for several deaths. In 2003, Utah passed laws requiring vessels to remain at least 150 feet from each other when at a cruising speed.

Megan’s death is the first such death in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, on the Arizona-Utah border, in five years.

Carbon monoxide danger

Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that replaces oxygen in the bloodstream and can be fatal. CO is emitted by engines that burn fossil fuels, including boat motors. To avoid poisoning:

Do not swim or allow others to swim near the swim step or under a boat, where carbon monoxide can remain even after engines and generators have shut down.
Do not swim or stand near the engines or the backs of boats when engines or generators are running.
Do not allow people to gather near the engine.
Take extra care when boats are enclosed for warmth.
Know the symptoms of CO poisoning: headaches, drowsiness and nausea.
Use CO detectors.

Sources: National Park Service and the Boat Owners Association of the United States


July 10, 2007 Tuesday