Running car fills condo with exhaust, killing Tampa man

Article Courtesy of FOX NEWS Channel 13

By Aaron Mesmer  

Published January 11, 2019


TAMPA - A Tampa family left their car running overnight and, by Monday morning, carbon monoxide had filled their condominium on Davis Islands -- killing a husband and leaving his wife in critical condition.

According to police, a call came in at around 9:45 a.m. that a man was unconscious in his unit at the Villa Del Mare condos on E. Davis Boulevard.

When officers arrived, they found Thomas Martino, 55, dead in his home. Pamela Martino, 53, was unconscious and rushed to the hospital. The family's two dogs were also killed.

"It's brutal and it's painful. It's a sad, sad thing," said Mike Sharpe, a neighbor of the Martinos. "Sometimes with these new car that don't have the keys. You can get out of them, they're so quiet, and you don't press the button. I know I've done that a few times on the street."

The units at Villa Del Mare condominiums are all three stories. Another neighbor told FOX 13 Thomas Martino and the dogs were found on the first floor. Pamela was discovered on the third floor.

It's unclear if the family had working carbon monoxide detectors.

"I guess they didn't see it coming. I guess it wasn't painful, but hopefully they can invent something that gives it a little smell to it or something and people can notice it," said Sharpe. "It's a very sad day for that family, I'm sure. My heart goes out to them."

FOX 13's Dr. Joette Giovinco explained why carbon monoxide is so deadly.

"It sticks to our red blood cells more so than oxygen, so it will displace oxygen. That means that our organs are not getting what they need," Dr. Jo said, adding there's a reason CO is often called the 'silent killer.' "It's colorless, it's odorless and most of the time people just don't know they're being exposed."

According to Dr. Jo, any building constructed after 2008 is required to have working carbon monoxide detectors installed. The units at Villa Del Mare were built in 2002, according to county records.

Experts said everyone needs to make sure their have functioning carbon monoxide detectors in their homes, condos or apartments.

"If you have gas in your home -- and that could be a water heater, or a fire place, or you have an attached garage, or you own a generator -- you really need to consider getting a carbon monoxide detector," she said.

Several first responders were treated and released from the hospital after being exposed to the gas.