Saskatchewan

'My heart broke': community reacts to carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of 2 kids in Sask.

Police say two young cousins are dead after they were overcome by carbon monoxide gas at a family residence near Prince Albert.

Boy, 12, and girl, 13, were cousins

Nacada Levesque, 13, and Benjamin Sanderson, 12, died of carbon monoxide poisoning. (Submitted Photo)

The two Saskatchewan children who died Tuesday of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning have now been identified.

A Prince Albert family has named Benjamin Sanderson, 12, and Nacada Levesque, 13, as the two people who were found dead in a home Tuesday afternoon.

The children were also identified in a GoFundMe Page approved by the family.

Darryl Berini, a cottage owner living on Janice Place at Emma Lake, said he saw several RCMP vehicles plus an ambulance and fire truck at a nearby cottage Tuesday afternoon — the same time reported by the RCMP.

Darryl Berini is a cottage owner on Janice Place at Emma Lake. (CBC News)

On Wednesday, Berini learned about the poisoning through an RCMP press release.

"I guess I was shocked," Berini  said. "Stunned that such a tragedy could happen so close to home here."

"It's a pretty quiet place usually, even in the summer, it's not too crazy. I guess I was just shocked," he said.

Emma Lake is located about 200 km northeast of Saskatoon and just south of Prince Albert National Park.

The children, who police said were cousins and also best friends, were visiting with family members at the time.

No one else needed treatment for the effects of carbon monoxide, a colourless and odourless gas.

'My heart broke'

Jan Goy, who said she is a family friend, started a GoFundMe page to help with any financial costs.

"As a mom of two myself ... my heart broke," she said.

"I don't feel that they should have to be worrying about money right now when they're grieving the loss of their kids."

Goy said the deaths are having a large impact on Prince Albert as well.

"Prince Albert is not that big of a place. Everybody knows everybody," she said.

 "I'm just hoping that everybody can come and take comfort, get together, grieve together and help support these moms that have to unfortunately bury their children."

Neighbours in this cottage community at Emma Lake saw police and ambulance services Tuesday at a nearby cabin.

The Saskatchewan Coroner's Service is investigating, but police said the deaths are not considered suspicious.

Local paramedics are reminding people to take precautions.

First, people should have carbon monoxide detectors throughout their home, said Lyle Karasiuk, public affairs director for Parkland Ambulance.

And you should know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"It is an odourless, colourless gas and until everybody develops a headache, feeling of nausea, dizziness, confusion you wouldn't know something else is going on," Karasiuk said.

"You won't recognize it unless you have a carbon monoxide detector, to which we encourage you at the lake, whether it's a cottage, a trailer, camper, wherever you can, you should have a carbon monoxide detector."

Karasiuk said you should always check to make sure chimneys and vents are not blocked, and to make sure homes, including cabins and trailers, are well-ventilated.

If you suspect a leak contact your gas supplier.

Saskatoon Fire Chief Morgan Hackl speaks Thursday about the importance of carbon monoxide detectors. (Cory Herperger/CBC News)

Those messages were echoed by Saskatoon's Fire Chief Morgan Hackl. He said the service responded to roughly 300 calls for concerns around Carbon Monoxide in 2018, making up roughly two per cent of its call volume.

"It's close to the same density as air and it is very dangerous," he said. "So just as every home should have smoke alarms, every home needs to have carbon monoxide alarms."

Hackl stressed Saskatoon has had deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. In 1994 two children died when an iced-up chimney collapsed, trapping fumes from a furnace inside of their home. In 2011 a couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning after their electricity turned off as a result of unpaid bills. 

Information from Saskatchewan's Coroner Services indicates there have been 16 deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning in the province since 2015.

Six of the deaths were from carbon monoxide leaking into the home or garage, while the other ten were cases of people dying in fires. This doesn't include the most recent deaths.

Carbon monoxide detectors were on display at Saskatoon's Fire Hall No. 1 Thursday. (Cory Herperger/CBC News)

 CO leak in Winnipeg hotel

The cousins died the same day 46 people at a Winnipeg hotel had to be taken to hospital after a buildup of carbon monoxide that officials have attributed to insufficient ventilation.

All 46 were discharged from various hospitals within 24 hours of the hotel's evacuation.

With files from the Canadian Press

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