Story Summary

2 die from carbon monoxide leak

Two north side women died and seven other people from the same family were hospitalized, apparently victims of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The family owns the building where all the victims lived.

They had a working CO detector in the basement, but its placement near an open window may have caused the unit to not pick up high levels of the lethal gas.

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Funerals will be held tomorrow for two members of the same Chicago family whose lives were taken by carbon monoxide.

Family and friends gathered with the family of 77-year-old Rasheeda Akhter and 18-year-old Zanib Ahmed to mourn their loss.  An autopsy confirms they were victims of long-term exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide.

Friends of the teen, who planned to study medicine at Northwestern, can’t believe she’s gone.

“She was just an amazing friend,” said Nayaab Ahmed.

The deaths were confusing at first, because although the initial symptoms were consistent with c-o poisoning, the first readings taken by Chicago Fire Dept were very low.

“Keep in mind that CO poisoning is cumulative.  It adds up. So you get a little here a little there, it keeps adding up, said assistant deputy fire commissioner Mark Nielsen.

The city requires one working CO detector on every floor with a bedroom.co-leak-death

Chicago fire officials says there was one detector that appeared to be working, but did not go off.  It was kept near the boiler and a window that was often left open. In short, exactly the wrong place.

“Sadly, that’s where people think it should go, by the furnace, but it’s not,” said Gigi Lubin of First Alert, a Chicagoland-based company that makes CO detectors. “It needs to go near your sleeping area, because if you’re asleep, you want it to wake you up.”

Along with being in the right place, they have to be regularly checked and replaced.

Carbon monoxide takes two lives on the north side despite a working detector in home.
77 year-old Rasheeda Akhter and 18-year-old Zanib Ahmed both died at Swedish Covenant Hospital about three hours apart Sunday.
Two other women and five children ranging in age from 5 to 12, all from the same family and living in the same building were hospitalized with similar CO poisoning symptoms.
Firefighters checked the building’s co detectors and found them to be in good working order.
Now questions are focusing on those detectors, just like the ones in most houses.
WGN’s Tom Negovan has more.

Police are investigating whether a carbon monoxide leak led to the deaths of two people in West Rogers Park.

Zanib Ahmed

18-year-old Zanib Ahmed is one of the victims of a possible carbon monoxide leak.

Paramedics were first called to the building in the 2500 block of West North Shore Avenue about 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning

They rushed two women to the hospital; one went into cardiac arrest and died.

Rasheeda Akhter, 77, was pronounced dead at 11:14 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Later Sunday afternoon, police came back to the apartment to take another woman to the hospital who was found unresponsive. 18-year-old Zanib Ahmed, died at 9 p.m., according to the medical examiner’s office.

Five children were also hospitalized, but are expected to recover.

Officials found a positive reading for carbon monoxide near a boiler in the building’s basement, but they won’t officially rule the deaths were caused by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, but until autopsy results are reported, police said.

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