An unthinkable tragedy has a mother from Oklahoma using her voice to warn other parents of the dangers of carbon monoxide while boating.
Cassandra Free and her family from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma had a family day out on the lake, but it ended with her 9-year-old son, Andrew, passing away as the result of carbon monoxide poisoning from spending too much time at the rear of the boat.
If you’re unaware about these dangers – you need to read this.
Cassandra’s viral Facebook post further explained:
“His COHb was 72%. His so-called ‘drowning’ was secondary to the fact that he would have never lived at that level. What does this mean?”
“It means that Andrew was not going to live regardless of what happened next. He was at the back of our Malibu Skier most of the day. Boats, even moving, create a backdraft of exhaust. That’s right. Exactly what I’ve typed: carbon monoxide exits the rear of the boat and drafts right back into the back of the boat. Backseat riders are especially vulnerable at low speeds and in long no-wake zones like the one we had to cross to return to the docks.
“I didn’t know this. No one I know knew this. It’s called open-air carbon monoxide poisoning. Another friend looked into and found that it can also happen on other recreational vehicles like 4-wheelers. Our little Andy, our Dude, was probably slowly dying that afternoon/evening and we didn’t know it. He would’ve been tired. His head would’ve started to hurt. Sounds like too much sun after a long, physically draining day of wakeboarding, wake surfing, and tubing.”
She explains that there was really no way to know what was happening, chalking it up to the kids’ just being tired from a long summer lake day.
“Andy, he crawled onto the back of the boat and curled up in a ball,” Cassandra said.
“We were packing and cleaning up and the kids are groaning that they don’t feel good, just want to take a nap. My husband got Blake, my middle son, up. When he tried to get Andy, the boat just rocked and Andy rolled off. My husband, he was like, ‘What the heck?'”
They quickly jumped into the water and recovered Andy, but after administering CPR, they were unable to get another breath from him.
“His levels were 72 carboxyhemoglobin, which means 72 percent of his blood could not carry oxygen to his brain. That resulted in brain death,” Free said. Doctors told the family he was “already gone” by the time he passed out and fell into the water.
The exhaust and backdrafts, especially for an extended period of time at the back of the boat with no strong air flow, can result in poisoning. They even mention similar scenarios with 4-wheelers.
Cassandra is hoping her family’s nightmare can educate other families on the silent killer many are completely oblivious to. She’s making it a priority to spread the message.