Minnesota family spreading awareness after losing son to CO poisoning

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is helping one local family spread the message about carbon monoxide poisoning after one family member made a mistake that ended up costing them their life.

"Carbon monoxide is a colorless odorless gas, and it can be deadly,” Bruce Gordon of the Department of Public Safety.

And in the case of Jared Johnson, a firefighter from Aikley, Minnesota just north of Brainerd, it was just over one year ago today on Leech Lake.

Now, his family wants to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else.

“Our son loved the outdoors. He loved fishing, he loved hunting. Every chance he got he would go,” Denise Johnson, Jared’s mom, said at a press conference with the Department of Public Safety on Thursday.

But on this trip, Jared and his friends made a fatal mistake. A firefighter who knew better, he and his friends used heaters rated for outdoors not indoors without proper ventilation.

‘All heating units, whether they’re fueled by LP gas, kerosene or even wood, have the ability to emit carbon monoxide gas.”

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include headache, nausea, light-headedness, an unsteady gait, racing heart, losing consciousness and seizures, according to Dr. Christopher Logue from the Hennepin County Medical Center.

Dr. Logue treated 77 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning last year – two deadly, despite including a detector you can wear on your lapel for about $100 or the typical battery-operated unit for less than $20.

“I don’t want to see any other family broken like we are,” Denise said. “It’s not a good place to be.” 

Carbon monoxide poisoning killed 64 people in Minnesota between 2011 and 2015. Jared's dad has taken his son’s death so hard he had to leave his post as fire chief.