Rescuers recount finding victims of carbon monoxide poisoning

After a terrifying ordeal, three victims of carbon monoxide poisoning have been released from hospital and are on their way home to Saint John.

A man and two children were airlifted to Halifax hospitals after they were discovered in a Stephen Park housing unit on Friday.

According to the Saint John Fire Department, all three were unconscious when they were found. 

Jessica Sypher said she feels lucky to have returned to her home when she did on Friday night. Sypher said she left her four-year-old daughter and 11-year-old sister with a babysitter for a night out with her mother.

Tim Mason kicked down Sypher‘s door when they weren‘t able to get inside. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

When she arrived home, around 10 p.m., she wasn‘t able to get inside, but she could see through the window that her babysitter was in distress.

“He came down the stairs towards my door and he said ‘I don‘t know what to do,‘” said Sypher. With the door still locked, she said the babysitter looked like he was choking. That‘s when she called 9-1-1.

Meanwhile, the noise she and her mother were making while trying to get into their unit alerted Tim Mason, who was visiting his son next door.

“I went out thinking there was an argument, and when I come around a corner I seen (Sypher‘s mother) she was like crying,” said Mason. At their urging, Mason kicked the door in and found the babysitter lying on on the floor.

Victims carried out

Mason initially thought the carbon monoxide alarm beeping in the background was set off by smoke, and began searching for a fire. When he couldn‘t find one, he said they began helping the victims.

Sypher feels lucky to be returning home with everyone alive, but said she doesn‘t feel safe returning to her home which is owned by New Brunswick Public Housing. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

“I went in to grab my daughter,” said Sypher, who said the police soon arrived and helped carry out her sister and the babysitter. All three were then sent to the Saint John Regional Hospital, but were soon airlifted to hospitals in Halifax.

Sypher said the babysitter was flown by plane to the Victoria General Hospital and the children were later airlifted by helicopter to the IWK. On Sunday afternoon, they were all allowed to leave.

“All their levels went back to normal,” said Sypher. “They‘re all healthy now.”

While they may be on their way home, Sypher has mixed feelings about their return.

“I don‘t feel safe at all,” said Sypher, who feels if a carbon monoxide leak could happen once, it could happen again.

Looking for answers

The townhouse where she lives is a public housing unit owned by the province. The furnace for the building is underneath Sypher‘s apartment.

Thirty people were forced to leave the building temporarily on Friday, and the entire row of homes was without heat for most of Saturday, while repairmen replaced the furnace.

The province is currently investigating the cause of the leak.

Sypher said she‘s going to do anything she can to get answers and feels relieved she was able to return home with everyone alive.

“If I had not gone home, when I went home,” said Sypher, “they probably wouldn‘t be here today.”

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