Dry ice owned by Dippin' Dots salesman plays part in tragic death of 77-year-old woman

The tragic death of a 77-year-old woman in Washington state may have been caused by dry ice owned by a Dippin' Dots ice cream salesman.

The elderly Lakewood woman was getting a ride from her son's wife after visiting on Thursday, according to the News Tribune newspaper. The man, who runs the ice cream business, found them both in the car early the next morning, and they appeared to be unconscious.

The man's mother died at the scene, and his 51-year-old wife was hospitalized in critical condition, according to the newspaper.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office said the elderly woman likely died from asphyxiation, and investigators believe dry ice in the vehicle may be to blame.

"He had four coolers full of dry ice because he delivered Dippin’ Dots to various locations," sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer told the News Tribune. "He recently got a new car. The newer car probably had better sealing."

Dry ice will change from solid to gas at any temperature above -109 degrees, according to the University of Washington’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

"This releases potentially substantial volumes of CO2, which can displace oxygen quickly in the air around the dry ice, causing difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness and death," according to the guidelines. "This is especially of concern in nonventilated or confined spaces."

Troyer told KOMO News that "this all happened due to a lot of circumstances lining up."

"Dry ice by itself isn't going to kill anybody," he told the station.

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