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Lockport family survives after being exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide

Posted at 11:35 PM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-13 23:35:26-05

Just days after Christmas, Laurie Pinzel remembered she had to replace the batteries of her carbon monoxide detector.

"See, there's the battery in there," showed Pinzel.

Plugging it back in after passing out on her bathroom floor the night before, waking up with a terrible headache December 28th.

"I split my lip open, I hit my cheek," said Pinzel. "I thought I had the flu. I called for help to get back in bed but my face was hurting so much I couldn't actually fall asleep."

She wasn't the only one with those symptoms in her household. Her husband John and son Joe, both woke up with the worst headaches they've ever experienced.

"My head was throbbing like crazy," said Joe. "We had to leave the house."

The plugged-in detector gave it all away: carbon monoxide was in the air. So they called 911.

"I could not leave the front porch," remembered Pinzel. "My body physically could not move from the front porch. I needed help like right now... I couldn't breathe."

Firefighters took carbon monoxide readings of 800 parts per million. That's 16 times the amount OSHA allows during an 8-hour workday. The ambulance took them to Mount St. Mary's hospital in Lewiston.

That's where they were put in hyperbaric chambers, and treated for carbon monoxide. That's also where Laurie found out she had an aneurysm in her brain. Something she wouldn't have discovered if it wasn't for the carbon monoxide.

"You don't take anything for granted, that's for sure," said Pinzel. "Make sure you're never too busy and make time for the things that are important." 

Pinzel, thankful for Amanda's Law...

"We wouldn't have had it if it wasn't for Amanda Hansen," said Pinzel. "When she passed away, immediately the next day [we got a carbon monoxide detector] to keep our family safe."

She's also thankful to be alive to tell her story...

"I'm starting to realize now... now that I'm seeing it in writing: you could've passed away, you could've not been here," Pinzel said to herself.