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Two girls die in possible pesticide exposure
by Melinda Williams
Feb 11, 2010 | 5363 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Rachel Toone
LAYTON —A Layton family is grieving the deaths of two of their daughters after authorities say the girls likely died from inhaling fumes caused by rat poison.

But a determination of what, if any, charges may be filed could be a couple of months away.

Rebecca and Rachel Toone died days apart after police believe they were exposed to the fumes.

“The investigation is still ongoing. We’re still waiting for reports from a number of agencies and that will take time,” said Layton Police Lt. Quinn Moyes.

Four-year-old Rebecca died Saturday after becoming ill at the family’s Layton home. Her parents and siblings also experienced flu-like symptoms the same day and were hospitalized. They were discharged Sunday, but 15-month-old Rachel fell ill again that day and was hospitalized at Primary Children’s Hospital, where she died Tuesday.

Moyes said Wednesday that reports are still pending from a number of agencies. Each will take time, and the report from the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office could take from six to eight weeks before it’s released.

The family members initially thought they were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning after their detector went off. The Layton Fire Department was called in, checked for carbon monoxide fumes and aired the house out. They then gave the OK for the family to move back into the house.

Authorities believe the toxic gas phosphine killed the girls. They say the poison may have entered the home after an exterminator dropped Fumitoxin aluminum phosphide pellets in burrows in the lawn Friday to kill small rodents known as voles.

According to the Utah National Guard Hazmat team, remnants of the pellets were found buried in burrows along the driveway and near the porch, about three feet from the garage and seven feet from the front steps.

The family had hired Bugman Pest Control, a Bountiful-based company to exterminate the rodents.

Lt. Col. Tyler Smith with the National Guard’s 85th Civil Support Team said an invoice from the company indicates the business placed about a pound-and-a-half of the pellets in the front yard. He said investigators believe the fumes found their way into the Toone home through tiny cracks where the foundation meets the building.

Ray Wilson, owner of Bugman Pest Control, was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but in an earlier interview with KSL-TV, he expressed sorrow for what the Toone family was going through.

He told KSL that the technician likely followed guidelines on the product label, which doesn’t indicate limits on space. However a product manual said pellets should be placed no fewer than 15 feet from a building.

A statement released by the Toone family thanked the community for “the outpouring of kindness we have felt and for the sustaining prayers offered in our behalf.” They asked for their privacy, “to celebrate (the girls’) lives among family and friends.”

Contributions to assist the family may be made to the Rebecca and Rachel Toone Trust Fund at any office of Wells Fargo Bank.

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