DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) — Extremely high levels of carbon monoxide were measured inside a home where four family members were found dead in central Ohio, safety officials said at a news conference on Friday.
Genoa Township police have identified the family members as 50-year-old Richard Reitter III, 49-year-old Jennifer Reitter, and their two children, 15-year-old Richard Reitter IV and 13-year-old Grace Reitter. The family’s three dogs also were found dead.
Firefighters went to the home early Thursday afternoon when a relative couldn’t get a response at the residence and called 911 saying they had not been able to reach anyone for three days.
Police Chief Stephen Gammill said Friday that some family members had complained on Monday about feeling sick.
Firefighters donned protective suits to enter the home, where high levels of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, were detected, Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Ponzi said. Protocol requires firefighters to wear protective suits whenever carbon monoxide levels of 30 parts per million are present, Ponzi said. Levels inside the home were eventually measured in excess of 1,200 parts per million, which Ponzi said he had never seen in his 25 years as a firefighter.
Ponzi said it took 90 minutes to completely ventilate the home to make it safe to enter without protective equipment. He also said symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic flu symptoms. No carbon monoxide detectors were found inside the home.
Gammill said the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in the investigation, and that experts will be consulted as appliances and other possible sources of carbon monoxide inside the home are examined.
A coroner will make an official determination about how the family died.
The Olentangy Local School District, where the two children were students, said it would make grief counselors available on Friday.
Genoa Township is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of downtown Columbus.