A 12-year-old boy, Trai Schlichter, evacuated from an apartment complex at 700 Willowbrook Road Feb. 4, later died in hospital, according to Airdrie RCMP detachment commander Insp. Kimberley Pasloske. The cause of death has been determined to be a carbon monoxide (CO) leak, though the cause of the leak remains under investigation.
“It is with great sadness that I’m here to tell you the 12-year-old who was taken to hospital this morning has succumbed to his injuries. Our hearts and thoughts are with the grieving family,” Pasloske said during a Feb. 4 press conference.
Emergency crews from the Airdrie Fire Department, EMS and Airdrie RCMP responded to reports of a person in medical distress at approximately 9 a.m.
A total of 136 units in the apartment complex were evacuated, with residents taken initially to Genesis Place Recreation Centre. The Airdrie and District Victims Assistance Society was brought in to help.
“They found the young man and grabbed him and got him outside into the fresh air and started to provide care,” said Deputy Fire Chief Garth Rabel. “Then (they) handed him off to AHS for ongoing care and transport to hospital.”
The CO levels were found to be greater than 2,100 parts per million (PPM), according to Rabel, who added residential detector goes off at about 1,200 PPM.
This wasn’t the first time the apartment building was evacuated after a CO leak. In June 2014, between 80 and 100 people were removed from the building after CO levels were found to be “dangerously elevated.”
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the young man lost in this terrible tragedy. None of us can imagine the weight of their loss and our hearts go out to all of them,” Mayor Peter Brown said. “To our community members, we sincerely urge you to pick up a carbon monoxide detector, bring it home – they are available in any local hardware store. And if you have one, take a moment today to test it and ensure it (is) working properly.”
Two adults from the same apartment as the victim were also taken to hospital but are expected to make a full recovery, according to Pasloske. An additional patient was treated at Genesis Place.
All gas appliances in the apartment building were shut down and with the source of the CO controlled, efforts turned to ventilating the building to remove any remaining gas.
Most residents were allowed back into their units at approximately 6 p.m., although six units remained evacuated, according to Pasloske.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family of the victim. As of Feb. 7, it had raised $13,810 of a $15,000 goal. The fundraising page can be accessed at gofundme.com by searching “support for Trai, Jayla and Elysha.”
According Rabel, the Fire Prevention Bureau, Airdrie RCMP, ATCO Gas and City of Airdrie Building/Gas Inspectors are continuing to investigate the cause of the leak.
Only Ontario and the Yukon mandate the installation of CO detectors in homes. In Alberta, CO detectors are only required in newly-built single-family homes, and near garages or boiler rooms in multi-family units. The Willowbrook complex is more than 20 years old.
An online petition at change.org was started following the tragedy, asking the province to require CO detectors wherever a smoke detector is required. As of Feb. 7 the petition had 3,288 signatures.
– with files from Matt Durnan