Carbon monoxide detector in 'off' position found next to St. Croix River victim

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A carbon monoxide detector, switched to the “off” position, was found next to a woman who died of suspected CO poisoning on a boat on the St. Croix River last Sunday, June 25.

According to the Wisconsin DNR, 24-year-old Ashley Speer was on the boat Saturday night, June 24, with boat owner Justin Roskos and Hayden Johnson. The DNR’s preliminary investigation indicates the boat may have struck a buoy while heading south from Stillwater, Minnesota, as a line was wrapped around one or both of the boat’s props.

The boat was beached at High Line Beach overnight, and on Sunday a concerned citizen called 911 for a welfare check, as the boat was unfamiliar and there was no activity. Sheriff’s deputies found  the boat’s camper enclosure in the up position and closed. All hatches and ports were closed and a generator was running. A certified generator technician inspected the generator and did not find any mechanical issues.

Washington County, Minnesota sheriff’s deputies found  Ashley Speer was unresponsive, and Roskos and Johnson were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. As mentioned above, a carbon monoxide detector was located near where Speer was found, but it was in the "off" position.

Preliminary results from the autopsy suggest accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.  Drug and alcohol results are pending, although no drug use is suspected.

The incident is still under investigation by Wisconsin DNR. The DNR is reminding boaters to be certain that all safety equipment onboard is operating correctly and adequate ventilation is established before running any engine or burning any fuel source.

The Minnesota legislature just passed Sophia's Law, which is named after 7-year-old Sophia Baechler. Sophia died two years ago from carbon monoxide poisoning while boating with her family on Lake Minnetonka after an animal chewed through an exhaust pipe under the boat. The law requires marine carbon monoxide detectors on any enclosed motor boat. However, the law doesn't go into effect until May 2018.