Three Marines Dead of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

( – The Pender County Sheriff’s Department issued a devastating social media press release on July 26, sharing news that three US Marines had unexpectedly died. The deceased, all of whom had served as lance corporals stationed in North Carolina, were found in a parked car after a family member of one of the young men reported him missing.

Sheriff Alan W. Cutler offered his condolences, thoughts, and prayers to grieving friends and coworkers. Authorities identified the three individuals as 19-year-old Tanner J. Kaltenberg, 23-year-old Merax C. Dockery, and 23-year-old Ivan R. Garcia. The Marines had been vehicle operators for three different logistics groups at Camp Lejeune. The North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that carbon monoxide poisoning was responsible for all three deaths.

A search began after Dockery’s mother called to report her son hadn’t made a flight to Oklahoma City, where his family had expected him to fly in for a funeral, and police discovered the three young men in a car parked outside a Speedway gas station. The Associated Press reports that authorities believe the deaths were accidental rather than the result of suicide or foul play.

The Cleveland Clinic warns that carbon monoxide is responsible for roughly 100,000 hospital visits and 400 deaths in the United States each year. Early warning signs of exposure include headache, nausea, and shortness of breath. Prolonged or moderate exposure can lead to dizziness, confusion, poor coordination, worsening headaches, chest pain, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and death.

Exposure to the odorless gas can occur in numerous ways, according to the CDC, but poor or faulty ventilation is often a key culprit. Most people experience carbon monoxide poisoning due to misused or leaking gas appliances, such as space heaters and issues with damaged or clogged exhaust pipes. A leaky exhaust system hose in a car or truck can be just as dangerous, allowing the deadly gas to vent into the cabin instead of outside the vehicle, essentially turning an idling car into a death trap.

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