Couple die from carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to reverse classic Mercedes into plastic bag

Inquest hears William Reid, 67, and his partner Kathryn Workman, 70, had collected and restored classic cars for years

Toyin Owoseje
Tuesday 02 April 2019 10:02
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Couple die from carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to reverse classic Mercedes into plastic bag

A couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to reverse a classic Mercedes-Benz into a protective plastic bag, an inquest has heard.

Car enthusiast William Reid, 67, was performing the manoeuvre with the help of partner Kathryn Workman, 70, at a garage near their home on 22 October 2017 when he was overcome by fumes.

Workman entered the bag to help her unconscious partner, but was also affected by the odourless fumes.

The two-day inquest in Cockermouth, Cumbria, was told she managed to crawl out back out and call emergency services.

The call handler initially told Workman to keep away from the area as she risked carbon monoxide intoxication. However, confusion about what was happening in the garage, the operator then advised her to get as near as possible to her partner and try to treat him.

Workman tried to wake Reid but was unsuccessful, and soon stopped responding on the call.

When paramedics arrived, they opened as many doors in the garage as they could in an attempt to rescue Workman, but were unable to get to Reid.

It was not until Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service arrived that the retired lorry driver was removed from the bag. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 1.13pm.

Workman suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away in hospital two days later.

Post -mortems determined Reid had died from poisoning by carbon monoxide, while Workman died by hypoxic brain injury due to poisoning by carbon monoxide.

Detective Sergeant Martin Hodgson, of Cumbria police, described the bag as one you would “definitely struggle” to tear open. Reid purchased the Mercedes from the United States and wanted to store the vehicle in the bag to protect it during the winter months

An investigation carried out by the ambulance service found that the operator’s decision had been “accepted as reasonable”.

Coroner Simon Ward said Mrs Workman told the handler she was going back into the bag to help her partner on her own initiative, adding that she would have tried to save him “irrespective of the instructions of the call handler” or her own safety.

He told the inquest: “Mrs Workman was aware she may become unconscious. My view is she would have still tried to help him and that’s a credit to her dedication to their relationship.”

It was concluded that Reid died as a result of an accident while recording a verdict of misadventure for Workman.

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