UPDATE:

A Delaware County jury found Antonio Davis guilty of theft but not guilty of two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury.

ORIGINAL STORY:

MUNCIE, Ind. — Two children were hospitalized Friday afternoon from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning, and their parents are now in custody.

According to the Muncie Police Department, Delaware County 911 Dispatch received a call around 12:15 p.m. for a report of unresponsive children, ages 2 and 8, at Walmart in the 4800 block of W. Clara Lane.

Upon arrival, officers found one child unresponsive in a car in the parking lot, while a second child had been brought inside Walmart for help.

“Police were the first to arrive, and from what we were told, it was just a matter of minutes before they were going to be unrecoverable,” said Muncie Police Chief Nathan Sloan.

The Muncie Fire Department also responded to the scene and assisted MPD in checking the carbon monoxide level inside the vehicle. According to police, the reading was “dangerously high” and posed a significant health threat.

Both children were transported to an area hospital and then to an Indianapolis hospital for further treatment, where they were reportedly in serious but stable condition.

During the investigation, MPD said it was determined the children were left inside of a running vehicle in the parking lot while the two parents, Antonio Davis, 41, and Brittany Rogers, 26, of Oklahoma, went inside the store for an extended period of time.

“We think most people would agree 2 and 8 is too young to be leaving in a car alone,” said Sloan.

According to police, Walmart reported that items were stolen by Davis and Rogers while inside the store. The pair was arrested on charges of neglect of a dependent and theft and booked in the Delaware County Jail.

Police said the investigation leads them to believe other problems with the car contributed to the dangerously high readings of carbon monoxide.

“During the investigation, we found that the car was missing quite a few of the components of the exhaust system,” said Sloan. “We’re still investigating that. We’re going to have to have that examined, but it was missing quite a few components of the exhaust system, which contributed to the carbon monoxide poisoning.”

According to investigators, one of the parents, who is the registered owner of the vehicle, admitted they had knowledge of an exhaust issue with the vehicle. The investigation into those circumstances, including how long that problem has existed and how those parts went missing, is ongoing.

“As far as the car’s condition, we are going to have to examine the car further, there are going to be more interviews and video to go through, so it’s still really early in the investigation,” said Sloan.

Sloan said this case is unusual and calls attention to a potentially bigger problem.

“I haven’t seen a case like this before where a car that was left in the open air had the potential to asphyxiate somebody inside, but that’s what we’re preliminarily finding,” he said.

“I mean obviously car exhaust can be dangerous in confined environments, but I had no idea that in an open-air environment, that this could happen and I think it’s important to draw attention to the fact that your car’s condition is important and to pay attention to your kids, not leave them in a car when it’s running or otherwise, they should be with you,” said Sloan.

He said he is grateful the children are alive and said the situation could have had a much more devastating outcome.

“It appears by all accounts, that the children were neglected, the car was in a bad state of repair and that fortunately we got there in time for these children’s lives to be saved because it could have been much, much worse,” said Sloan.

Chief Sloan said the investigation into the case is still early and remains ongoing.

As always, anyone with additional information on the incident can call Muncie Police Department Investigations at (765) 747-4867 or Muncie Crime Stoppers at (765) 286-4050.

Dangers and symptoms of CO poisoning

We spoke to a Registered Nurse (RN) at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, which can cause injury or even death.

RN Timothy Gant could not speak specifically on this case, however, he was able to help provide insight into what you should do to keep yourself safe and know if you may have been exposed to a carbon monoxide leak.

Although Gant said he doesn’t see CO-related cases every day, it is not rare that these happen.

“We see CO poisoning, I wouldn’t say frequently, but it does happen. I would say if it does come in, it’s usually some sort of self-harm attempt,” said Gant. He explained, many times they see these cases is when the power goes out and people attempt to warm their homes in any way they can, like through the use of fuel-burning equipment.

Some of the symptoms of CO poisoning include a headache, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, weakness and confusion.

Gant said, if you suspect you have possible carbon monoxide poisoning, you need to be seen by a medical professional immediately.

“You definitely at least want to get checked out. I’ve seen people get admitted, I’ve seen people transferred to a higher acute facility, I’ve seen people be discharged from our emergency department,” said Gant.

Another challenge with detecting CO poisoning, Gant said, is it can bring on symptoms similar to the flu, which can cause people to ignore the early signs of it. CO has no odor, color or taste, so it cannot be detected by our senses.

“If you have multiple people in your home, in your setting and all of a sudden everybody at one time gets hit with symptoms it’s probably towards that,” said Gant. “If everyone is all of sudden sick, try going outside and if that alleviates symptoms, then you’ve probably got a carbon leak somewhere.”

Gant added, children remain some of the most susceptible to CO poisoning.

“Keep an eye out for kiddos, kiddos are very susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. They’re quicker breathers than we are, they have a smaller body, so they’re gonna show signs first,” he said.

He wants to remind of a few ways to protect yourself, including installing and maintaining CO alarms in your home, never using any appliances intended for outdoor use inside, like portable generators, camp stoves, barbeque grills, or other similar items, and if you are remodeling your home, avoiding having tarps covering vents.