Four children dead, others sickened after accidental poisoning in Amarillo

Four children have died, their mother has been hospitalized and at least five other family members were sickened after an accidental poisoning Monday morning in Amarillo.

According to a statement on Nixle from the Amarillo Fire Department, at 5:04 a.m. Monday, the AFD responded to a medical call at 1301 Carolyn.

AFD Public Information Officer Capt. Larry Davis said in the statement, “Our initial crew arrived on scene and found one person unconscious and unresponsive, and numerous other occupants sick.”

CPR was initiated on the unresponsive person, but rescue was unsuccessful. Because of the nature of the scene, carbon monoxide poisoning was initially suspected. Additional fire and ambulance units were called out, along with the Amarillo Fire Department Hazardous Materials Response Team. Nine other occupants were transported to a local hospital.

Davis said CPR was initiated on another patient and firefighters and AMR personnel continued CPR efforts on the patient in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The second patient was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at the emergency room.

After interviewing other family members, it was discovered that they were using a pesticide under their home that contains the chemical aluminum phosphate. At some point, Davis said, a family member tried washing the chemical from underneath the house with water. When this chemical comes in contact with water, it creates phosphine gas, which is highly poisonous and can cause pulmonary edema and respiratory failure.

Davis said it was unknown at the time of the release how long the family had been exposed to this gas.

Numerous first responders from AFD, Amarillo Police Department and AMR went to the hospital to get checked out and none of them appear to have any negative signs or symptoms from a possible exposure. APD’s Special Crimes unit also responded to this incident.

At this time, Davis said this appears to be an accidental poisoning with no criminal intent.