Coroner investigating 3 deaths in Koreatown apartment building with foul air

KOREATOWN, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles County coroner is now trying to determine whether carbon monoxide caused the deaths of at least three tenants in a Koreatown apartment building last month.

Los Angeles firefighters found lethal levels of carbon monoxide in one unit where they discovered a body. There were two deaths one week and three weeks prior that are also getting a closer look.

"I couldn't speculate on the exact tests the coroner's office has to run, but there is a lot of analysis that has to go in to determine a positive cause of death," LAFD Capt. Branden Silverman said.

Tenants inside the 54-unit complex said that many fixtures have been replaced and everyone has new carbon monoxide detectors. But some tenants are grappling with a mystery.

Lashawn Kennard said that she lives directly next door to the apartment where the toxic levels were found and her neighbor died.

"None of our detectors went off and I'm saying as far as the surrounding apartments, they ring that loud and you can hear it. None of them sounded, and we all had them," Kennard said.

Firefighters said conditions are variable in any complex depending on proximity to a faulty appliance and the amount of airflow.

"In areas that are not well-ventilated carbon dioxide can build up," Silverman said.

On Monday, firefighters and the public safety group called "MySafeLA" canvassed a nearby neighborhood.

They offered to check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors as well as install new devices. They urge all residents to check the devices by pressing a button on the device with a broom handle to see if the monitors beep, indicating that the batteries are good.

In apartment buildings, the building code requires the devices be hardwired.

Still, Kennard urges tenants to take an extra step and add a second device.

"Check your own unit. Purchase your own carbon monoxide monitor, if needed. For your own safety, you have to protect yourself as well," she said.
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