Police Renew Generator Warning After Fatal CO Incident in Methuen, Massachusetts

Several New England families have been using generators after two March nor'easters took out power for thousands of people.

A constant hum has been the soundtrack in neighborhoods all over Massaschusetts for the past few days, where more than 55,000 people were still without power Saturday morning.

Police are sending out a renewed warning now after a man in Methuen died Friday evening after he and his wife were hospitalized for carbon monoxide exposure earlier that day.

Methuen police said they received a call around 7 a.m. for a carbon monoxide incident on Pelham Street. The 62-year-old caller said she woke up feeling sick and found her 55-year-old husband, Joe Sholik, unconscious and unresponsive on the couch.

The male victim was still unresponsive when he was transported to a local hospital. The female victim was also transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

Sholik was initially reported in critical condition. He later passed away, Methuen police confirmed shortly after 10 p.m. Friday.

Officials expect the woman to make a full recovery. 

A couple of pets were inside the home at the time of the incident. A dog was treated and will be okay, but a cat did not survive.

Police said two improperly ventilated generators were discovered in the basement, causing high levels of carbon monoxide in the home.

“It’s scary because it’s so preventable,” said neighbor Charlie Towne.

Towne knows all too well the dangers of carbon monoxide. In an eerily similar situation months ago, his daughter's boyfriend died after running a generator in their New Hampshire basement.

“My daughter has some serious medical problems as a result of it and she’ll never be the same,” said Towne. “Carbon monoxide is a serious killer.”

Police say generators should never be placed in a garage, basement or any enclosed space.

“Make sure it’s at least 15 feet from your property,” said Methuen Police Sgt. James Moore. “And vent it away so the fumes aren’t sent into the house.”

Methuen Mayor James Jajuga also cautioned the public against taking risks when it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning.

"Please contact public safety officials if you have any questions about how to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning,” he said.

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