Three died in Camborne caravan from carbon monoxide poisoning
Three members of the same family who died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from a cooker at a caravan park would have been "unconscious within minutes", investigators said yesterday.
It is believed there was no working carbon monoxide detector in the static caravan in Cornwall where the bodies of John Cook, 90, his wife Audrey, 86, and their 46-year-old daughter Maureen were discovered on Saturday afternoon.
Devon and Cornwall Police yesterday confirmed carbon monoxide poisoning had been established as the cause of death at the mobile home, at Tremarle Home Park, Camborne. A police spokesman said the cause is "believed to be from incorrect operation of the gas cooker".
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Early readings from experts at the site revealed a potentially lethal level of carbon monoxide in the caravan shortly after the grim discovery.
Mark Pratten, crew manager in prevention with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Carbon monoxide was at an extremely high level; a significant dose such as this would have been fatal.
"The investigation is continuing, but it would appear that the people inside the home would have slipped into unconsciousness within a few minutes. They would then go into a comatose state very quickly."
He said the Cooks would have died "very swiftly" after falling unconscious.
Flowers still marked the scene of the tragedy yesterday, with neighbours at the quiet caravan park – tucked away on the edge of the Cornish town – paying their respects.
One bouquet read: "Why did this happen to lovely people like you?"
Another said: "May you all rest in peace together."
News of the tragedy has rocked the close-knit residential park, where many elderly couples live. Neighbour Sue Issacs, 58, said: "Everyone here is in total shock. You never think that something like this would happen on your own doorstep. John, Audrey and Maureen were lovely people. It's so upsetting to think that three members of the same family have been wiped out in one go."
The alarm was raised at around 1pm on Saturday after the family failed to respond to knocks on the door from the couple's helper.
The Cooks' family dog, a five-year-old Jack Russell called Jannie, also died.
Cornwall coroners in Truro confirmed they had received reports of the three deaths, but that no dates had been set for the opening of the inquests.