Two children were found dead in Elkin this morning and their mother was being treated at Duke Medical Center as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from a portable generator.
The victims, a 7-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl, were found dead in a bedroom of a home at 211 Elk Spur Street. Their mother, Kathryn Gilliam, was found in a hallway, where she had collapsed.
The names of the children were not released by EMS officials.
John Shelton, the director of Surry County EMS, said the call came in to the EMS at 5:14 this morning from two friends who had arrived at the house early to help the family move. The friends took Ms. Gilliam outside, where they were able to resuscitate her. She was first sent to Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin before being taken by ambulance to Duke Medical Center for further treatment. She is listed in critical but stable condition. Shelton said that inclement weather prevented the use of a medical evacuation helicopter.
The two friends then found the two children, and two dead animals, in a bedroom.
“If the friends had not arrived when they did, Ms. Gilliam absolutely would not have survived,” said Shelton. “The level of the carbon monoxide gas in the house was extremely high, even after the house was ventilated.”
Shelton estimated the time of death for the children at 3 a.m.
Gas generator the cause
Since the family had not yet completed the move into the house, they did not have normal power service. They were using a portable generator in the kitchen to power the refrigerator. Shelton said it was the fumes from the generator that caused the carbon monoxide poisoning.
Shelton said that the generator was turned on at approximately 11 p.m. Tuesday. At some time during the night, the mother got up and turned the generator off but then collapsed from the fumes.
Shelton said he was told that the family was moving to the house from a home on Spring Street in Elkin.