Fumes blamed in deaths on boat

Three bodies found on cabin cruiser at Parkside Marina

June 19, 2007|By Nick Shields | Nick Shields,Sun Reporter

Three people were found dead on a boat docked at a marina in Middle River yesterday, the apparent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, county fire officials said.

The victims were identified as Laura Jean Gladden, 34, of Middle River; John Elijah Marsh, 39, of Dundalk, and Patty Mae Vento, 42, of Plantation, Fla., said Elise Armacost, a county Fire Department spokeswoman. Foul play was not suspected.

About 1 p.m. yesterday, county fire officials received a call about three unconscious people found on a cabin cruiser docked at the Parkside Marina near the 3300 block of Edwards Lane.

Firefighters found the bodies lying in the forward cabin of the boat, Armacost said.

A test revealed that carbon monoxide levels inside the boat were 30 parts per million, Armacost said. She said levels that high can be deadly and would prompt county fire officials to evacuate a building.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless.

"It is one of the most frightening poisonous gases," Armacost said.

The levels could have been higher inside the boat, Armacost said, but the gas could have been diluted when the doors were opened. When authorities arrived, hatches and doors were closed, preventing ventilation, Armacost said.

It was unclear yesterday what caused the carbon monoxide buildup in the boat, but the problem might have stemmed from a generator, she said. Armacost said boats and buildings should be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.

Yesterday afternoon, people gathered at picnic tables at the marina, waiting for authorities to confirm the identities of the friends they feared had died on the boat.

The owner of the 31-foot Sea Ray, where the bodies were found, declined to comment yesterday afternoon.

A man who had been on board the cabin cruiser, Jim Bianconi, 65, of Chase, said he was with friends early Sunday afternoon when they docked at the marina.

Bianconi said the boat did not experience any problems while the passengers were on board for a nearly seven-hour trip. He said he was stunned to hear of the deaths.

Essex resident Judy Treadway, 64, said she stayed at the marina Sunday and chatted with one of the women she believes later died in the boat.

"I just keep thinking this is a dream," Treadway said, as she pointed to the woman's car in the marina parking lot.

Treadway said that about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, she left the marina, and the three friends asked her why she was leaving so soon. "They were laughing and joking," she said tearfully. "I said I was going home."

Treadway said that was the last time she heard from the three friends.

nicholas.shields@baltsun.com

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