Water heater cause of deadly carbon monoxide leak

  • An aerial view of a home in the 2900 block of Oak Brook Hills Road in Oak Brook where a reported carbon monoxide leak killed an 86-year-old man.

    An aerial view of a home in the 2900 block of Oak Brook Hills Road in Oak Brook where a reported carbon monoxide leak killed an 86-year-old man. Courtesy of ABC 7

Updated 1/17/2014 7:30 PM

A water heater that the owner of the home recently reported issues with has been determined the proximate cause of a carbon monoxide leak Thursday in an Oak Brook mansion in which an 86-year-old man was found dead from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Pei Tang Yeh was found dead in the first-floor bathroom of the 15,000-square-foot home on the 2900 block of Oak Brook Hills Road that authorities said had dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide.


Oak Brook police, in a statement late Friday afternoon, said that the owner of the home "reported having issues with a water heater and recently had it serviced. It has been determined that the water heater was the proximate cause of the carbon monoxide leak."

Police also said in the statement that carbon monoxide detectors were not functioning in a house in a gated community just south of I-88 and west of Butterfield Country Club. Oak Brook firefighters and police had responded to the call of a woman having difficulty breathing at the house Thursday morning.

The DuPage County coroner's office has deemed the preliminary cause of death carbon monoxide poisoning. Toxicology test results expected in about 10 days will further determine if carbon monoxide poisoning was indeed the cause of death, the coroner's office said. No autopsy will be performed.

Seven women ranging in age from their 20s to 70s were taken by ambulances from five departments to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.

Oak Brook police said Friday that three of those women were transferred to other facilities for further treatment. Police believe the other four were released.

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Some of the occupants of the home were believed to be related, while others were staff members working in the home. Authorities have not released the names of the women who were taken to the hospital.

In their statement, police said the home "was equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, but (they) were not functioning at the time of the incident."

Authorities said Thursday that carbon monoxide readings were highest near an indoor swimming pool on the home's first floor. The pool has a heater, but the statement Friday did not indicate if the heater that had been serviced was the same one.

The statement further said that a police investigation was reviewed by the DuPage County state's attorney's office and that criminal charges will not be filed at this time.

Carbon monoxide levels were found as high as 1,000 parts per million, which Acting Fire Chief Gary Clark said is the highest readings can go on the department's air monitor. Safe levels are considered 35 parts per million or lower, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

"If there was that high level in that big of a house, whatever was causing it was a large source," Clark said.

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