The BC Coroners Service has confirmed that a woman who was found deceased in a tent in a Salmon Arm campground in 2019 died from the toxic effects of carbon monoxide.
A report from B.C. Coroner Wendy Flanagan released on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 describes the circumstances surrounding the death of 35-year-old Lucille Beaurain of Kamloops at Sandy Point Campground on May 18, 2019.
She was last seen by friends at 15 minutes past midnight that Saturday when she retired to bed in her tent. Lucille and her 10-year-old daughter Micaela, who survived the incident, were located unresponsive in the tent at 10:20 that morning when a friend went to check on them.
Micaela was airlifted to the intensive care unit at BC Children’s Hospital. A month later she was at Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children where she was undergoing physiotherapy.
A cooking pot that contained cold, burnt embers wrapped in tinfoil, which had been used as a source of heat, was located in the tent.
The post mortem/toxicology examination revealed a blood level of carboxyhemoglobin of 75 per cent. Values of 35 per cent or higher have been associated with fatalities.
The report noted that Technical Safety BC provides public education and awareness programs targeting the risks associated with the operation of portable fuel-burning devices such as camp stoves, barbecues or generators in closed spaces.
It points out that carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is colourless, odourless and tasteless. If inhaled in sufficient quantities, can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb oxygen.
“Symptoms of exposure include headaches, nausea, fatigue and dizziness. In higher concentrations or prolonged exposure, symptoms can worsen and cause loss of consciousness or death.”
The coroner classified Lucille Beaurain’s death as accidental and made no recommendations.