A mom has shared an urgent plea with other parents after her 9-year-old son suddenly and very tragically died from CO poisoning. This is utterly devastating…
There’s literally nothing worse than the thought of something bad happening to our children.
And if anything was to ever happen to them, we don’t know what we’d do.
And there’s no denying that it can be the most dangerous of places.
There are so many unlikely hazards out there that many of us parents don’t even think about.
Cassandra Free, who is from Broken Arrow in Oklahoma, is the mom of 3 kids: fifteen-year-old Johnathan, thirteen-year-old Blake, and 9-year-old Andy.
And she has spent a lot of time in their nearby lake swimming and taking part in water sports such as wake-surfing and kayaking.
“The kids jumped in between riders and took turns,” she explained.
“They started out at the front, but because of the sun, the adults shifted into the shade of the Bimini top, an open-air canvas canopy on the front of the boat, and the boys moved to the back.”
Although there were times the kids had to hop off their wakeboards and they needed to drive the boat slowly across “no-wake zones,” but the boys spent most of their day behind the boat.
“It took a good long while to get back to the dock,” Cassandra recalled, “Andy crawled onto the back of the boat, Blake laid out completely on the back seat, and John sat on the deck taking equipment.”
But then, 9-year-old Andy fell off their boat and “didn’t struggle.”
At first, they thought he was being “defiant,” but soon it became clear that he needed help.
But by then, it was too late.
Andy was tragically pronounced dead shortly afterward.
“At the hospital, our older sons were insistent that their heads were killing them. Dizziness, nausea,” the heartbroken mom recalled.
At the time it all seemed like markers of a day spent in the sun, mixed with grief… but little did the family know that it was going to be so much worse.
“Blood tests revealed the CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning, and the medical examiner was notified to run tests on Andy,” Cassandra explained.
“We did not dispute [previous reports] without having our own concrete evidence, but we knew that this wasn’t what happened,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
“He wasn’t on the dock. His brothers were treated that night at St. Francis for Acute Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Andrew has been swimming since he was 2 years old — he was a STRONG swimmer — and yet, he didn’t even struggle.”
Andy’s autopsy revealed that he had high (seventy-two percent) levels of COHb, or carboxyhemoglobin, “a stable complex of carbon monoxide that forms in red blood cells when carbon monoxide is inhaled,” according to MedScape, which meant that he died from carbon monoxide poisoning, not drowning.
“Boats, even moving, create a backdraft of exhaust,” Cassandra went on to explain.
“That’s right. Exactly what I’ve typed: carbon monoxide exits the rear of the boat and drafts right back into the back of the boat. 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.”
And it isn’t spoken about enough… at all.
“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.
“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,” she added.
“Even if he would’ve gone immediately to the ER at that time, he still would’ve died.”
And the mom is desperate for awareness to be raised around the dangers of CO poisoning.
“Inboard boats can accumulate lethal levels [of carbon monoxide] in minutes. Boat owners will spend up to and even in excess of $100,000 for a boat. We trust our boats the way that we trust our cars, for the most part.”
“There should’ve been huge reforms to the boating industry. I want reform because, even if your boat is safe, the boat next to you might not be and its emissions can harm you and your passengers. It will be complicated, but it’s long overdue,” she explained.
“I will never forgive myself for what was out of my control, which is why I will continue to spread his story.”
Rest in Peace, Andy. Our deepest thoughts and condolences go out to Cassandra and her family during this terrible time.
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