A Maryland family was found dead Monday afternoon from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. The carbon monoxide fumes that killed a father and his seven children were thought to come from a power generator used for electricity after the power was cut off.
Police officials in Princess Anne, Maryland, do not believe any foul play was involved in the accident. Thirty-six-year-old Rodney Todd Sr. and his five daughters and two sons were killed by the fumes. The young children ranged in age from 6 to 16 and were identified by their grandmother as: Cameron, 13; Zycheim, 7; Tynijuiza, 15; Tykira, 12; Tybree, 10; Tyania, 9; and Tybria Todd, 6. The children’s mother, 36-year-old Tyisha Chambers, was notified of the loss.
The family’s home initially lost electricity after power was cut off over an outstanding bill. Todd’s stepfather Lloyd Edwards told USA Today, “To keep his seven children warm, (Todd) bought a generator. It went out and the carbon monoxide consumed them.”
The family was discovered after police were sent out to check when Todd did not show up for work. Todd and his family were last seen on March 28, according to coworker and University of Maryland food service supervisor Stephanie Wells. When Todd didn’t show up for work on Saturday and didn’t call in, Wells filed a police report.
What the police found inside the home was heartbreaking. In the kitchen, a gas generator being used for power had run out of fuel. Princess Anne Police Chief Scott Keller said that he knew immediately there were not any people alive in the house.
Todd’s parents described him as a loving man who was doing whatever it took to care for his seven kids. Wells confirmed that Todd was a helpful coworker and an active father who loved to talk about his children.
CDC statistics indicate that carbon monoxide leaks result in a little more than 400 deaths a year. The odds of this kind of accident happening are small, but it doesn’t make the event any less tragic. Here we have a loving father trying to care for his seven children and make ends meet. When he wasn’t able to pay the utility bill, he went out and bought a backup generator to keep his kids warm on a cold spring night.
Sadly, it was a safety misstep that may have cost this family their lives. A generator should never be operated inside of a home or another enclosed or partially enclosed area. Carbon monoxide detectors cost as little as $15 and can literally save lives.
But how is this well-meaning advice going to help a dad who had run out of options? One thing we can all agree on — no family deserves to die like this.