Share story

Seven people, including a Seattle police officer, were taken to Virginia Mason Medical Center on Wednesday after being exposed to carbon monoxide.

Two elderly men had been found unconscious in a Lake City home and were reported to be in critical condition, according to the Seattle Fire Department.

Fire Department spokeswoman Sue Stangl said the alarm came in after Lake City residents Karen and Marty Corona returned to their home in the 13700 block of 35th Avenue Northeast late Wednesday afternoon and noticed a strong smell of exhaust.

While trying to determine the source of the smell, the couple zeroed in on their neighbors’ dwelling and discovered a car that had been left running inside a closed garage, according to the Fire Department.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

The Coronas attempted to contact their neighbors but got no response. With a key they use from time to time to check in and help the men, they entered the apartment and found the two men unconscious.

The Coronas and one police officer dragged the men outside, said Stangl. They, along with two other residents of the building, were taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

Stangl said victims of carbon-monoxide poisoning are taken to Virginia Mason because that hospital has a hyperbaric chamber. The chamber allows patients suffering from carbon-monoxide poisoning or decompression sickness to be given 100 percent oxygen under pressure.

Stangl said she did not know which of the seven patients, if any, were undergoing treatment in the specialized chamber.

At 10 p.m. all of the patients were being medically evaluated, according to Gale Robinette, a spokesman for Virginia Mason.

The Coronas’ daughter, Emily, 20, rushed to the scene when a friend of hers saw her parents’ home on the news. Her parents already had been taken to a hospital when she arrived, but she learned from another longtime neighbor that they would be OK.

“I’m really proud of them,” said Emily Corona. “I’m happy they were able to rally and help the neighbors.”

Stangl said the incident is a good reminder that carbon monoxide is an odorless poison.

“It’s really one of those tricky things because there is no smell and you don’t notice any symptoms,” she said.

Over the past few years, the Fire Department has been promoting the installation of carbon-monoxide detectors in homes.

The department has traditionally suggested that residents change the batteries on their smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors twice a year, when daylight-saving time begins and again when it ends.

Police are investigating Wednesday’s poisonings, but they could not immediately say why the car was left running.

Seattle Times reporters Alexa Vaughn and Mike Carter contributed to this report. Christine Clarridge can be reached at or 206-464-8983.

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.