Glendon William Bell Jr. loved fixing old cars and talking with mechanics far more than playing sports or seeking mischief. If that made the Mount Airy boy an atypical 12-year-old, family members said, it only made him more endearing to his father and uncles, all mechanics.
His family was hardly surprised at the idea that Glendon would become distracted from shoveling snow and start fiddling with the 1992 Ford Festiva that was his latest reclamation project.
"He didn't want anything new because the thing for him was to get it up and running," said Glendon's brother-in-law Steven Gosnell of Mount Airy. "Even though he was 12, he could tear anything apart and put it back together - cars, three-wheelers, tractors, anything old."
Glendon got the Festiva running Monday afternoon, even though he didn't have the keys. But the snow had encased the car, blocking its exhaust. Within minutes, police believe, carbon monoxide had filled the car and left Glendon, a seventh-grader at Mount Airy Middle School, unconscious.
When his father found him, he administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation but couldn't revive the boy. Paramedics also could not revive him. He was pronounced dead Monday afternoon at Frederick Memorial Hospital.
An autopsy was conducted yesterday and preliminary results showed that carbon monoxide almost certainly caused Glendon's death, although final results won't be available until tomorrow, said Dr. David Fowler, the state's chief medical examiner.
Glendon's death was one of four in the Baltimore area believed to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from cars snowed in by Sunday's storm.
Glendon William Bell Sr. said he and his son went to the house in the 200 block of Park Ave. in Mount Airy to clear snow Monday for an elderly friend of the family. Bell said the boy told him he was going to shovel behind the house while the father cleared the driveway using a Bobcat, Bell recalled. After about 15 minutes, Bell went to check on his son and found him in the car.
"He was a unique, kind, goodhearted kid," said his weeping father, standing outside his Mount Airy home yesterday. "Everybody around here can tell you that."
Bell, who with his brothers owns Bill Bell Auto Service in Dayton, said it was not unusual for his son to stop and tinker with a car. The boy had always loved old cars, tractors and trucks, his father said. He said he often took Glendon for tractor or truck rides when he was a baby because he seemed calmest when on top of a rumbling machine.
"I'd take him out back on top of the mower and he'd just sleep and sleep," said Bell, staring across the yard at old vehicles he and his son had worked on together.
Bell said the Festiva was a junker he and his son had been rebuilding. The owner of the house on Park Avenue let them keep old cars and trucks at her property, he said.
Neighbor Roy Filmore Dorsey said Glendon stopped by frequently to fix old mowers and lawn tractors. The 70-year-old and the 12-year-old shared a fascination for machinery, and Dorsey said he had no doubt Glendon would have grown up to become a top-notch mechanic.
"He was always finding old mowers and buying them at auction so he could tinker with them and then the next thing you know, he'd be riding around on them," Dorsey recalled.
"We about spent the whole summer together," Dorsey added. "All I can say is that he was a real nice kid, a good little friend."
Bell said his son never had many friends his own age because he most enjoyed talking with adults about mechanics or tending to younger children.
"I don't think kids his age quite understood him," said his sister, Jodi Bell of Mount Airy. "But he was the sweetest kid in the world, always looking to help people."
Mount Airy Middle School Principal Virginia Savell remembered Glendon as a "really kind, pleasant little boy." His class had about 10 pupils and Savell said she expects his death to be "really hard on them."
"We will try to make sure the children know what happened and understand how it happened," she said. "It's also really good for children to do something to remember their friend."
Savell said that in the past pupils have planted trees and held fund-raisers in memory of a classmate.
"We give them some suggestions," she said, "and then leave it up to them what they want to do."
Glendon also is survived by his mother, Judy, and sisters Traci Hawkins and Jill Gosnell, all of Mount Airy.
Sun staff writers Mary Gail Hare and Jennifer McMenamin contributed to this article.