Andy Free 9 year old Oklahoma boy dies from carbon monoxide poisoning while sitting at back of boat at Lake Eufaula. Broken Arrow boy’s monoxide level was 72%.
A nine-year-old boy has been revealed to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning while boating on an Oklahoma lake with his family. The cause of death comes after the child was initially thought to have died as a result of drowning.
Andrew ‘Andy’ Free fell off the back of the Malibu Skier at Lake Eufaula on June 6; he was initially thought to have drowned before an autopsy revealed deadly levels of the gas in his system newson6 reports.
The boy’s mother, Cassandra ‘Cassi’ Free has since come out warning others of the dangers of boats, sharing a Facebook post about her son’s death, posting: ‘Andrew has been swimming since he was 2 years old- he was a STRONG swimmer- and yet, he didn’t even struggle. Now we know why.’
The CDC warns: ‘Gasoline-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators, produce carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that can poison or kill someone who breathes too much of it.’
Symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
‘Our boy was probably slowly dying that afternoon/evening and we didn’t know it’
The medical examiner’s office said Andy’s Carbon monoxide level was 72%, meaning 72% of his blood could no longer carry oxygen.
His two brothers also fell ill with headaches, nausea and dizziness.
Explaining how her son fell ill, Cassi added: ‘He was at the back of our Malibu Skier most of the day. Boats, even moving, create a backdraft of exhaust.
‘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.’
140 fatalities from boating-related poisonings since 2000
Cassi said she could have lost all three of her sons, writing in the viral post: ‘Andy was smaller than his brothers.
‘They were moving around on the boat more than he was. They were at slightly less risk than their youngest brother.
‘But we could’ve lost all three of our children that night. As hard as it is to swallow, we were fortunate. Fortunate that Andy doesn’t have to spend his life on life support. Fortunate that his brothers lived.
‘It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.’
A 2014 CDC report found there had been more than 140 fatalities from boating-related poisonings since 2000.
Cassi said her family have owned four registered boats and four registered personal watercraft, adding: ‘We’ve never received a notice of any dangerous conditions.’
‘We had no idea anything unusual was taking place’
She wrote: ‘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.
‘Andrew crawled up onto the back edge of the boat while we were packing up at the dock and became unconscious and unaware of his impending death.
‘We had no idea anything unusual was taking place.
‘Had he not fallen over, had he made it into the car, even if he wouldn’t have passed at the lake, he would’ve been so severely brain-damaged that he likely would’ve passed away in his sleep on the way home.
‘Even if he would’ve gone immediately to the ER at that time, he still would’ve died. No medicine could’ve saved him at his levels. There was nothing that could’ve been done at this point.
‘Don’t let Andy’s death be in vain. Educate yourself and educate your friends and family. I do not want anyone else to ever experience what I am going through.’