SYLVAN BEACH — One person is dead and another is in critical condition due to suspected carbon monoxide poisoning after state police found them on a boat Monday docked along the Erie Canal, off Canal Street in the village.
At about 2:30 p.m., state police responded to the village at the east end of Oneida Lake for a possible carbon monoxide poisoning on a boat.
Members of the Sylvan Beach Fire Department discovered a male and female on a boat. They were located by friends who went looking for them after the female didn’t show up for work.
William R. Lashomb, 36, of Bridgeport, was unconscious and initially taken to Oneida Hospital. He’s since been airlifted to Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, and is in critical condition.
Blair M. Dodge, 34, of Central Square, was pronounced dead at the scene. She was taken to the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office and an autopsy has been scheduled to determine the official cause of death.
The initial investigation indicates the couple was staying on the boat overnight and succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to state police. Investigators are attempting to determine if the carbon monoxide came from the boat engine, or a portable space heater, which was located on the boat. There were no suspicious circumstances and no trauma to either of the victims.
Matt Timerman, the city fire chief in Watertown, said making sure homes have detectors and regularly maintaining appliances are the two primary ways of preventing exposure to carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide detectors are required in every home under city code, but they’re still far less common than smoke detectors, he said, but there has been progress.
“Even so, there are commercial buildings that aren’t required to have them,” the chief said, “and for most people who own their own home, nobody is inspecting to make sure they have them.”
Carbon monoxide comes from improper combustion of hydrocarbons, so from anything that burns — like propane, natural gas, a woodstove or charcoal.
Water heaters, boilers and furnaces are built to accommodate for that and vent carbon monoxide out.
If, say, a water heater in a house wasn’t venting properly, and carbon monoxide get in the house, symptoms like a headache might come on immediately or over time, depending on the leak. Carbon monoxide is also flammable, making it even more critical to have detectors.
“Whether it’s a false alarm or not,” Mr. Timerman said. “It gives people the chance to call us so we can come with meters and we can begin to go through the steps to identify if there really is carbon monoxide in the home.”
State police were assisted on Monday by the Sylvan Beach Fire department, Vineall Ambulance and the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation is ongoing.