Arizona firefighters believe that the family of four who were found dead in a friend’s cabin on New Year’s Day may have died from carbon monoxide poisoning, CBS reports.
A contractor inspected the home outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, and determined that the cabin’s heating system had a “significant failure.” The faulty system likely lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.
The heating unit was the only gas appliance in the home. First responders who discovered the bodies of the family reported smelling a strong gas odor.
“There is nothing to think about. It’s just tragic,” Dan Matock, a family friend, told CBS. “It’s just a big hole in all of our hearts, that only Tony and Megan and their children can fill.”
The victims—mom, dad, son, and daughter—spent the end of the year in the cabin. Police identified them as Anthony Capitano, 32, Megan Capitano, 32, Kingsli Capitano, 3, and Lincoln Capitano, 4.
A friend who did not hear from the family for several days called the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office on Monday. Deputies responding to conduct a welfare check found the four bodies upon arrival.
“Tony just had a magnetic smile and spirit about him and Megan was a compliment to that,” said Matock, who had known Anthony Capitano for years. “Just the perfect couple. I mean, I try to emulate my relationship with my girlfriend and my children after Tony and Megan.”
Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said that the medical examiner’s office would investigate to determine the official cause of death.
Carbon monoxide is known as a “silent killer” since it is odorless and deadly in high concentrations. Carbon monoxide detectors are a recommended safeguard against the dangerous gas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rhonda Alsobrook, a longtime friend of the family, told 12 News that she may be one of the last people to speak to the family before their deaths.
“I sent her this snap ‘I love you more,’” Alsobrook told 12 News. “I won this conversation because I said ‘I love you more’ and I was the last one to say ‘I love you more.’”
Alsobrook is a professional photographer and has captured the family’s most important moments, including engagement, marriage and the most recent Christmas.
“I was actually up late finishing up their family photos,” Alsobrook said.
According to Alsobrook was getting ready to celebrate New Year and send friends and family photos.
“She [Megan] was snapping photos of the kids, they woke up playing in the cabin,” Alsobrook said.“Tony was dancing around being goofy with the kids like they always did and we just didn’t hear from them.”
“What I think is that they probably all got their jammies on, went to bed — I was told there was two beds in there,” Alsobrook said, “And they were sleeping and they probably snuggled up and went to sleep and that’s probably what happened. I don’t think they even knew.”