A close call for a Tampa Bay Area woman who survived carbon monoxide poisoning. She says it's all because of her push-to-start car.
A week ago today, Catherine Gunn didn't think she'd be able to kiss her mother ever again. She'd parked her new car in the garage for the first time.
Three hours later, her husband arrived from work and noticed the garage was extremely hot. He knew it was carbon monoxide. Gunn instructed her husband to go to a neighbors house for a tool that would let her share oxygen with her mother — but she couldn't leave.
"I could not leave. My mom is my best friend," cried Gunn.
Her mom was in the other room bedridden on hospice. Gunn was feeling dizzy, confused and light-headed. As a registered nurse she knew her mom's oxygen tank might keep them alive long enough for help to arrive.
"I went to my mom and we alternated the oxygen," she described holding up the plastic hose she cut to place from her nostrils to her mother's.
At the same time, she was on the phone with 911.
"My automatic van that you press buttons is parked in the garage and it was left on," said Gunn to a 911 dispatcher in a call obtained by ABC Action News.
While on the phone, the dispatcher wants her husband to evacuate.
"It's carbon monoxide, go outside!" You can hear Gunn yelling at her husband in the call, "The 911 dispatcher is saying and I am telling you. Listen to me!"
Her husband listens and leaves the house.
Gunn's story isn't unusual. In fact, back in 2011, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called keyless ignition features a "clear safety problem" citing carbon monoxide poison as a significant concern after numerous complaints.
The agency proposed new rules, but the proposals have gone nowhere. One such safety proposals would require all automakers to equip their keyless ignition cars with an alarm. It would sound off if a driver leaves the car with their fob while it's still running. The agency found the costs to the industry would be “minimal” to implement the fix, but it did not instruct automakers to take action.
Some car makers already have this feature. General Motors has designed its cars to automatically shut off after some time once the driver has left the car.
Gunn thought she turned the car off, but there is no way to know for sure.
"I love the push button feature even if it almost cost me my life," she said.
Despite that she wants her story to serve as a warning. Make sure your car is turned off and invest in carbon monoxide detectors.
"I almost lost my life. I almost lost my husband's life at the same time," she sobbed, "I'm just truly blessed to be alive."