WSP Report: Carbon monoxide poisoning death of college student caused by improperly installed water heater | News

OLYMPIA, Washington.— The Washington State Patrol has completed its investigation into the death of a 21-year-old Evergreen State College student from carbon monoxide poisoning in December 2023 and has also released a timeline of events.

Jonathon Rodriguez and two female students were found unresponsive in their on-campus apartment on December 11th. The other two students ultimately survived carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to the WSP, its investigation revealed that carbon monoxide alarms went off in the apartment in the early morning hours of December 11, but they were turned off by Evergreen State College maintenance staff, who mistakenly thought the alarms were faulty and did not go off due to an actual alarm Leaks.

A forensic engineering firm was brought in to assist the WSP in its investigation and determined that a newly installed water heater in the residence with improperly installed supply and exhaust vents was the cause of the carbon monoxide leak, according to a news release from the WSP regarding its investigation .

The WSP investigated the home and interviewed carbon monoxide poisoning victims and witnesses before preparing its report on the incident.

The WSP's report was then reviewed by the forensic engineering firm before being finalized.

“This was a tragic but avoidable situation,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “

Ultimately, the WSP concluded that three main factors led to carbon monoxide poisoning, including:

  • A significant carbon monoxide leak occurred due to the improper installation and venting of a new tankless water heater in the on-campus apartment.
  • The carbon monoxide alarms that sounded on December 11th should have been treated as a real event and not a false alarm.
  • Evergreen State College staff and property maintenance staff lacked training or understanding of the fire alarm/carbon monoxide alarm systems.

According to WSP's investigation timeline, the water heater was improperly installed on December 4, and the following events occurred a week later.

At 5:41 a.m. on Dec. 11, carbon monoxide alarms began sounding and the students then called Evergreen State College dispatch, who then contacted maintenance, who arrived at the apartment at 6:20 a.m

At 6:30 a.m. maintenance checked the fire alarm panel and confirmed the carbon monoxide alarm. At 8:07 a.m. the alarm panel went silent, but at 8:47 p.m. it began ringing again

At 8:59 a.m. the alarm panel was silenced and several resets were performed before the carbon monoxide detectors were removed from the rooms at 9:20 a.m

The security systems provider arrived at Evergreen State College at 6:16 p.m. and the carbon monoxide devices were reinstalled and reset at 7:00 p.m

At 7:29 p.m., the carbon monoxide alarm sounded again, followed by half an hour of communication between the college and maintenance.

Maintenance notified dispatch at 8:04 p.m. that they were checking for a possible carbon monoxide leak

At 8:10 p.m., maintenance reported that two people were found in distress in the apartment.

An Evergreen State College officer arrived at 8:12 p.m. and began providing first aid to two students in one bedroom and another student in another bedroom.

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