Seven family members poisoned to death at their home

·3-min read

Carbon monoxide poisoning has claimed the lives of seven family members, including three children, just days before Christmas.

The devastating incident was discovered by relatives who visited the family's home in Moorhead, in the US state of Minnesota, on Saturday night (local time) after not hearing from them for several days.

“This is an absolute horrible tragedy, made even more poignant since it is close to the holidays,” Moorhead Mayor Shelly Carlson in a statement on Wednesday.

“My heart aches for the family and friends who received this devastating news over the weekend. Our community mourns with them during this heartbreaking time.”

The family, from Moorhead, lying on a picnic rug smiling at the camera.
The family was found dead in their homes on Saturday night. Source: Facebook

'Lethal' levels of carbon monoxide found

According to neighbours, the three children hadn't been seen since Friday.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in St Paul examined blood samples from the family, with tests showing lethal levels of carbon monoxide, The Sun reported.

The family was identified as 37-year-old Belin Hernandez, 34-year-old Marleny Pinto, 16-year-old Breylin Hernandez, seven-year-old Mike Hernandez and five-year-old Marbely Hernandez.

Belin’s 32-year-old brother Eldor Hernandez Castillo and Marleny's niece Mariela Guzman Pinto, 19, also lived in the home and died.

Carbon monoxide detector had battery removed 

Police Chief Shannon Monroe said there was no indication of any kind of criminal activity.

"Unless we find something else yet later in the investigation, right now it's pointing toward some type of accidental situation," he said in a press conference on Thursday.

Chief Monroe said detectives found a carbon monoxide detector detached from the wall and placed in a laundry room cabinet with a battery removed.

"In place of the carbon monoxide detector was a smoke-only detector," he said.

The Hernandez-Pinto family wearing red plaid shirts sitting on the couch smiling at the camera.
Belin Hernandez, Marleny Pinto, Breylin Hernandez, Mike Hernandez and Marbely Hernandez were tragically killed by carbon monoxide poisoning. Source: Facebook

Chief Monroe said the carbon monoxide came from either the home's furnace or a van in the garage, although further testing needs to be done by a separate lab to test for hydrogen cyanide which comes from a vehicle’s exhaust.

“If this is not present, this leaves the furnace. This may take eight weeks before we have any results,” the police chief said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the extended family with funeral costs, which at the time of writing has raised more than AU$18,000.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Dr Barbara Robertson, Director of Anaesthetics at Albury Wodonga Health, told Yahoo News Australia previously a huge issue with identifying carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning was that symptoms were similar to those of the flu or gastro.

"The most common symptom is headaches, but victims could experience any number of complaints including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, confusion, difficult breathing, muscle cramps and abdominal pains," she explained.

Extended exposure to CO can lead to unconsciousness and in some instances, permanent brain damage or death.

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