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Parents of 21-year-old who drowned after inhaling carbon monoxide on a boat warn of dangers

A pair of bereaved parents are warning others about the hidden risk of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning on boats after their healthy 21-year-old daughter drowned this spring — and now they’re planning to sue the boat company for her death.

University of Cincinnati soccer player Ally Sidloski was swimming near a Yamaha boat in a Southwest Ohio lake when she likely inhaled carbon monoxide fumes that poisoned her and caused her to drown on May 22, officials said.

Her parents, Tracie and David Sidloski, said she was a strong swimmer and are preparing to file a lawsuit against Yamaha.

They are also speaking out to warn others about the little-known danger. 

‘We can’t bring our daughter back. But if we can try to save other people from having to go through this, we want to do our best to do that,’ Tracie told Today. ‘It is preventable.’

University of Cincinnati soccer player Ally Sidloski was swimming near a boat in a Southwest Ohio lake in May when she drowned 

Pending: Her parents are planning to sue Yamaha, the maker of the boat

Pending: Her parents are planning to sue Yamaha, the maker of the boat 

The Sidloskis are heartbroken over the death of their daughter, who achieved a 4.0 in several semesters at the University of Cincinnati while she was also a student athlete.

Honor roll: Ally achieved a 4.0 in several semesters at the University of Cincinnati while she was also a student athlete.

Honor roll: Ally achieved a 4.0 in several semesters at the University of Cincinnati while she was also a student athlete.

In high school, she was a three-time All-Greater Cleveland Conference selection and was named to both the National Honors Society and Math Honor Society.   

In college, she followed in the footsteps of her father and one of her two sisters, who’d also played collegiate soccer. 

She hadn’t played in the spring of 2021 soccer season due to an injury, and in May had a free day with friends to go out on a boat at a nearby lake.

She was enjoying a day on the water with friends and had been sitting in an area in the back known as the swimming deck before her death.

Yamaha warns that this is not a place for sitting in its manual.  

‘Passengers must always sit in a designated seating area,’ the boat manual reads, according to Today.  

She was swimming at East Fork Lake (pictured) in Ohio when she disappeared under the water and didn't resurface

She was swimming at East Fork Lake (pictured) in Ohio when she disappeared under the water and didn’t resurface

Officials said she likely had carbon monoxide poisoning from the boat's exhaust

Officials said she likely had carbon monoxide poisoning from the boat’s exhaust 

She had been sitting in the boat's swimming deck area, which Yamaha warns is not a designated sitting area despite cushions and a cup holder

She had been sitting in the boat’s swimming deck area, which Yamaha warns is not a designated sitting area despite cushions and a cup holder 

Carbon monoxide: the colorless, odorless gas that can kill you 

Carbon monoxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas.

It is found in the fumes of burning fuel, including gasoline, wood, propane, and charcoal.

It is commonly found near vehicles, grills, fireplaces, and furnaces.

When it is inhaled, CO2 can build up in the bloodstream, replacing  the oxygen in red blood cells.

Too much exposure can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms, which are often describe as flu-like, include headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness.   

In worst case scenarios, it can lead to brain damage, miscarriage and fetal death in pregnant women, heart damage, even death. 

According to the CDC, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires each year, while more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized. 

‘Stay away from the swim platform area while the engines are running. Exhaust gases coming from underneath it contain carbon monoxide,’ it continues.

However, the area includes placed that are shaped like seats, cushions, and a cup holder.

After spending time sitting there, Ally was reportedly swimming in the water while hanging from the swimming deck when she dipped below the surface and didn’t come back up. 

Her body wasn’t found until 1 a.m. the next day. 

‘Ally knew how to swim. It didn’t make sense,’ her mom told Today.

‘It doesn’t feel real,’ her dad added.

While the coroner ruled her death a drowning, officials said it was likely carbon monoxide poisoning that contributed to her going under the water and failing to swim back up.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness. 

Prolonged exposure, like to a sleeping or drunk person, can cause irreversible brain damage and death. 

Ally’s grieving parents intend to file a lawsuit against Yamaha, with their lawyer John Uustal arguing that ‘this is not a problem to be solved in the owner’s manual. There should not be seats in the danger zone.’

But the Sidloskis are also warning others about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning on boats.

To demonstrate, they rented a boat and allowed a reporter from the Today show to measure carbon monoxide levels.

Prolonged exposure to a concentration of 70 parts per million (ppm) or above can cause symptoms, while concentrations of 150 to 200 ppm and above are considered dangerous. 

'We can't bring our daughter back. But if we can try to save other people from having to go through this, we want to do our best to do that,' her mom said

‘We can’t bring our daughter back. But if we can try to save other people from having to go through this, we want to do our best to do that,’ her mom said

Warning: Their lawyer argued that 'this is not a problem to be solved in the owner’s manual. There should not be seats in the danger zone.'

Warning: Their lawyer argued that ‘this is not a problem to be solved in the owner’s manual. There should not be seats in the danger zone.’

'Ally knew how to swim. It didn't make sense,' her mom saud

‘Ally knew how to swim. It didn’t make sense,’ her mom saud

The Today show found that it only took a few minutes of the boat engine idling for their carbon monoxide meter to have a reading of 700 ppm in the swimming deck area of the boat where Ally was.

But the potential for poisoning spreads further. They also measured the air around boats at a Florida swimming spot and measured readings of 400 ppm.   

While boat-related carbon monoxide poisoning is rare, it’s not unheard of: In 2020, the US Coast Guard reported 41 incidents. 

Following Ally’s passing three months ago, her coaches spoke out about the loss.

‘I am absolutely crushed for the Sidloski Family, our soccer team and the University,’ said UC soccer coach Neil Stafford in a statement.

‘There’s no words for dealing with a tragedy on this scale. Ally was such a pillar of everything that’s right about our program. 

The UC Bearcats midfielder's parents are warning others of the dangers

The UC Bearcats midfielder’s parents are warning others of the dangers

Following Ally's passing three months ago, her coaches spoke out about the loss

Following Ally’s passing three months ago, her coaches spoke out about the loss

‘A great student, gritty and resilient player and a phenomenal human being – this is an immeasurable and unspeakable loss. Our hearts go out to her family and friends and we will lift them up with our fond memories of Ally.’

‘Not only have we felt the darkness of tragedy but the Light of Love, Empathy & Compassion,’ Stafford added on Twitter. 

‘I’m moved by the Grace & Strength of the Sidloski Family & the Resiliency of our @GoBEARCATS Family. Ally Sid was a beautiful extraordinary woman, the emotions of so many proved that today.’

‘Our Bearcats family has suffered an extreme loss,’ said Director of Athletics John Cunningham. 

‘A crushing loss to the Sidloski family and all of the Bearcat family,’ tweeted Gavin MacLeod, an assistant coach at Ohio State who previously worked for the Bearcats. 

‘A truly special soul, who improved everyone’s life simply by knowing her. You will be missed, but cherished forever Ally Sid.’ 


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