Heartbroken family tragically loses young son to 'silent killer' they thought was the flu

An Alaskan family is mourning the loss of its 10-year-old son after the effects of a carbon monoxide leakage from a fridge at their cabin.

When carbon monoxide poisoning, often referred to as a “silent killer,” had set in on Aug. 20, Sarah and Matt Klebs thought they, their 8-year-old daughter and their 10-year-old son were suffering from the flu. Now the grieving parents are speaking out about a danger they hadn’t considered.

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“How would you know? Prior to this, I never would have thought about it,” the mother said in an interview with Alaska Dispatch News.

The mother was at the cabin with two of her children, Caroline and Gavin. Their 14-year-old son, Connor, was staying with friends that weekend and Matt was working. The mother said that headaches soon escalated into vomiting and that, before she knew it, she was sending messages to family concerned members about what was happening. Sarah didn’t respond to replies and couldn’t remember why.

A CBC News piece from 2014 on the dangers of carbon monoxide explained that it is “easy to confuse the symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure with the flu or other medical problems,” as symptoms like headache, fatigue, trouble thinking, dizziness and nausea are all familiar.

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By 9 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20, the family Connor had been staying with realized something was wrong when Sarah didn’t pick up her son as planned. When they all got to the cabin to check on the family, they found the three unresponsive. While Caroline and her mother were saved with the help of intensive emergency treatment, Gavin did not make it.

A GoFundMe campaign has been started for the family by Seth McMillan to help the Klebs family cover medical costs. At the time of this writing, more than $26,000 has been donated.

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