Authorities have finally provided a concrete answer about what led to the death of two people discovered in a Buffalo Wild Wings parking lot last month.
Alissa Spah, 20, of Andover, and 22-year-old Antonio Perfetti, from Ham Lake, were found in a car on a Thursday afternoon at 3395 River Rapids Drive NW in Coon Rapids. Police said their deaths were likely accidental – there were no signs of trauma – but couldn't offer a certain cause of death until full autopsy results came back.
On Tuesday, the Anoka County Medical Examiner released those findings.
Both died of carbon monoxide toxicity, the examiner said, noting that "recent cocaine use" was "a significant condition."
The examiner also listed it officially as an accident.
Carbon monoxide and cars
Carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless, making it especially dangerous.
Internal combustion gasoline engines produce carbon monoxide – a lot of it, Iowa State University says. And if things aren't hooked up right or are leaking, the gas can make its way into the car, putting occupants in danger.
"Exhaust systems must be gas tight from the engine to the end of the tailpipe," the school says.
One example: In December of 2016, a couple in England were found dead in their car. Investigators found the car had been modified – the catalytic converter was removed, and there was a gap between the engine and exhaust. That let carbon monoxide fumes get sucked into the car, the Daily Mail said.
Lifewire suggests getting your exhaust and emissions systems checked regularly, as well as avoiding driving with holes in the floor or a trunk/liftgate open. And of course never turn your car on in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
According to the CDC, at least 430 people die in the U.S. every year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning (including in homes or around generators).