Autopsy: 7-year-old dies from carbon monoxide intoxication

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A 7-year-old has died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a generator was operating inside a home in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the Polk County Sheriff's Office says.

An autopsy concluded the cause of death, and has ruled it accidental.

Sheriff Grady Judd says it's the first Irma-related death to be investigated by his agency.

The girl's mother called 911 just before noon Wednesday. Shashunda Wilson, 41, told dispatchers she felt dizzy when she woke up this morning. Her daughter, Terryn had slept in bed with her and appeared to have died in her sleep.

Polk County Fire Rescue arrived to the home first, where they found Shashunda sitting outside. They took her to Lakeland Regional Medical Center. 

PCSO said she told the first responders the generator was running in the living room, while she and Terryn were asleep in the bedroom with the door closed. She had apparently run an extension cord from the generator to her bedroom to power a fan blowing fresh air from the window inside.

In spite of her bedroom door being shut, PCSO says high levels of carbon monoxide were found throughout the home. Once windows were opened and the CO was cleared from the home, deputies were able to go inside and locate Terryn. 

Shashunda told detectives she recently obtained a generator due to having lost power during Hurricane Irma, and it was the first time she had used one. She was not aware that it couldn't be home, according to a media release. She is being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning in a Miami hospital, and is in critical, but stale, condition.

The carbon monoxide level in her home was measured at 150 parts per million. The unoccupied other half of the duplex measured at 88 parts per million. The generator is a Power Stroke 5500 watt.

Shashunda and Terryn lived in a duplex. Investigators say the adjoining residence had high CO levels, as well, but no one else was injured. An autopsy will be conducted to determine Terryn's exact cause of death.

"It's a tragedy when anyone dies, but when a child dies, it's a horrific tragedy," Judd said. By all indications, this was a horrific, tragic accident because the basic rules weren't followed."