Updated January 24, 2021 – Authorities determined that a furnace was the source of the carbon monoxide poisoning. Police originally suspected a van parked in an attached garage, but the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office showed that the CO did not come from a combustion engine
Autopsy results found that a family of seven died from “lethal levels” of carbon monoxide poisoning at their house in Moorhead.
During a wellness check, a relative found that the Hernandez-Pinto family died in their sleep. After the deaths were reported, fire officials arrived at the house on the 4400 block of 13th Street South for a carbon monoxide detector check.
Investigators say the most recent home inspection in September 2020 showed no issues with the carbon monoxide detectors installed in the home. While searching the home, detectives found one detector in the laundry room cabinet with its battery removed.
Possible Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at the House in Moorhead
Police say a preliminary autopsy “ruled out any obvious trauma as the cause of death.” While the source of the carbon monoxide inside the house is still under investigation, two possible sources include:
- The garage area with an exterior air intake for fresh air.
- A van parked in the garage with a dead battery and half-full gas tank.
After checking the van, a mechanic found that the alternator worked but the battery needed to be changed. More testing will be done to determine if the family’s blood contains hydrogen cyanide, which originates from the exhaust of motor vehicles. The test results will take about eight weeks.
The Hernandez-Pinto family moved to Moorhead from Honduras. The family members who died include:
- Belin Hernandez (37)
- Marleny Pinto (34)
- Mike Hernandez (7)
- Eldor Hernandez Castillo (32)
- Mariela Guzman Pinto (19)
The children were students in the Moorhead Area School District. Moorhead schools released a statement about the incident to parents and will provide grief counselors for students. Neighbors say the children frequently played outside and described the family as “quiet and friendly.” Relatives created a Go Fund Me page to help cover funeral costs.
Lawyers Help Families Sue for Wrongful Death in CO Poisoning Incidents
If you experienced a death in your family due to CO poisoning, you should contact an experienced lawyer to find out if you have a wrongful death claim.
Carbon monoxide poisoning cases can be complex because of causation issues. To pursue a claim, there needs to be proof that the negligence of a third party caused the CO poisoning incident. Examples of responsible parties may include:
- Landlord or hotel owner
- Service professional
Our product liability lawyers have been representing clients in wrongful death lawsuits for the past 40 years. Pritzker Hageman was named one of the 2022 “Best Law Firms in America” in U.S. News for our work in personal injury litigation.