An 8-year-old girl hospitalized with apparent carbon monoxide poisoning died one day after being found unresponsive with her father and brother in the family’s garage in Kentucky, PEOPLE confirms.
Mayra Garcia died at Norton Children’s Hospital Thursday evening, according to the Courier-Journal and a spokesperson for the Louisville Metro Police Department. The death came more than a day after she was found along with her 3-year-old brother, Cruz Isaac Garcia, and their father, Juvenal Garcia Mora, 39.
“They were the sweetest family I’ve ever known. It’s just left a hole in my heart because I loved those children,” their next-door-neighbor, Joan Johnson, 85, tells PEOPLE. “The little girl was sort of shy … the little boy, he just loved to follow his daddy.
She adds: “It’s broke my heart. I’ll never see those kids again. I don’t know what the mother’s gonna do… that’s her whole family.”
A family member found the three unresponsive in the garage of the family’s Louisville home. The garage was closed and the father was found outside the car while the kids were inside the vehicle, the spokesperson says.
Garcia Mora and the Cruz were pronounced dead at a local hospital an Mayra was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
“It was a horrible, horrible accident,” the spokesperson tells PEOPLE. “I don’t believe there’s any foul play, it’s just a horrible situation that’s happened.”
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Louisville Police Department spokeswoman Lt. Emily McKinley told reporters last week that the children’s mother had left for work, and their father was preparing to take the 7-year-old to school. It is unclear how long the trio was in the closed garage, but McKinley said that the poisoning happened “very, very quickly.”
“It appeared to be that he had warmed the car up while it was in the garage, and trying to get the kids out the door to school and start the day,” McKinley said.
The incident happened in the Valley Station area of Pleasure Ridge Park and the coroner’s office is working to confirm the cause of the deaths, the Courier-Journal reported.
A family friend has set up a GoFundMe page to benefit the family.
According to the CDC, key ways to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from your vehicle include:
- Have a mechanic check the exhaust system of your car or truck every year. A small leak in the exhaust system can lead to a build up of CO inside the car.
- Never run your car or truck inside a garage that is attached to a house even with the garage door open. Always open the door to a detached garage to let in fresh air when you run a car or truck inside.
- If you drive a car or SUV with a tailgate, when you open the tailgate open the vents or windows to make sure air is moving through. If only the tailgate is open CO from the exhaust will be pulled into the car or SUV.