CEDAR LAKE | A 61-year-old Cedar Lake woman was found dead of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in her Monastery Wood townhome Friday morning.
Cedar Lake Police Chief Gerald H. Smith said there were no signs of foul play, leading investigators to believe the death is accidental.
Emergency personnel found the woman unresponsive while evacuating four townhome units after a nurse returned home from working the midnight shift at a local hospital to find her carbon monoxide detectors going off.
The woman went outside and called 911, with Cedar Lake Fire and Police Departments and NIPSCO crews responding to the scene.
A Lake County deputy coroner said the victim’s name is being withheld until relatives are notified. He said her cause of death is listed as pending.
Cedar Lake Fire Chief Todd Wilkening confirmed firefighters were called to the home in the 1000 block of 130th Lane at 7:30 a.m. in reference to a carbon monoxide leak.
Smith said carbon monoxide levels at the scene were extremely high, registering levels of 4,000 parts per million. Smith said levels under 40 parts per million are considered safe.
Emergency personnel were able to safely evacuate residents from three of the four townhome units, Smith said, but responders received no answer from a fourth unit.
Smith said neighbors confirmed a woman lived there.
Smith said the responders forced entry and found the woman lying on a bed.
Smith said the victim had no signs of life and appeared to have died during the night. He said investigators determined she had accidentally left her car running in the garage and after several hours was overcome by the poisonous carbon monoxide fumes from the vehicle exhaust.
NIPSCO spokesperson Kathleen Szot said the company was contacted for assistance by the Cedar Lake Fire Department.
“Typically if there is ever a fire, carbon monoxide, natural gas any type of issue with that they call our crews,” Szot said. “We respond and we were able to get there and turn off the natural gas and make sure there weren’t any other safety issues. We have been helping with the investigation.”
Smith said no other leaks were found. He said the remaining units were aired out and checked by emergency personnel, after which residents were allowed to return home.