Hole in exhaust pipe found on boat where girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning

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Thousands of lights lined block after block in Edina Thursday night, stretching to Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in memory of Sophia Baechler, WCCO reports.

The next morning, family, friends and loved ones of the 7-year-old Edina girl gathered at that church to celebrate her life.

Baechler, a second-grader at Concord Elementary School, died Sunday while on a boat on Lake Minnetonka. Authorities suspected carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of death, which the Hennepin County Medical Examiner confirmed earlier this week.

She's survived by her mother and father, Courtney and Benjamin Baechler, and her younger brother Will, according to an obituary in the Star Tribune.

Hole in an exhaust pipe found

Authorities are releasing new details about what happened Sunday afternoon at Wayzata Bay.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in an email Friday said investigators found a hole in an exhaust pipe underneath the mattress area of the lower cabin area, which appears to have been caused by animals chewing it.

Baechler had gone down there because she wanted to rest, occupants on the boat told authorities. About 10 minutes later, she was found "in distress," the sheriff's office says.

When the Wayzata Police Department arrived, occupants from the boat were on the dock giving Baechler CPR. She was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center without a pulse, where she was pronounced dead.

Memorial fund raises $30K and counting

A YouCaring page set up to benefit benefit the YMCA Camp Kici Yapi and Concord Elementary School – two organizations "important to Sophia" – has raised more than $33,000 as of Friday morning.

Funds will be used to help kids who can't afford the camp get a scholarship, and also for school art supplies and materials.

"I'm so overwhelmed by the incredible outpouring of generosity and support everyone has shown on this page, and in so many other ways over the last few days," an update from Courtney Baechler said. "Sophia would be overjoyed to see other kids going to camp and doing art projects and benefiting as a result of your generosity."

Carbon monoxide and boats

It’s not widely known that carbon monoxide exposure is possible with small gasoline-powered engines and tools, including boats, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Carbon monoxide from engine exhaust can build up inside and outside boats in areas near exhaust vents, the CDC notes. The agency urges people to stay away and not swim near the areas while propulsion engines or generators are running.

Although carbon monoxide exposure is possible with boats, it’s not all that common. In 2014, only one incident of carbon monoxide exposure involving recreational boating was reported. That person was injured, according to the United States Coast Guard’s 2014 report.

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