MISSOULA, Mont. — Sweet Grass County Sheriff Alan Ronneberg says three people in Sweet Grass County died due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Officials say an investigation by the Sweet Grass County Sheriff's Office determined an exhaust pipe wasn't secured properly to a generator located inside the building where three people were found dead north of Reed Point.
Investigators believe the unsecured pipe filled the building with carbon monoxide over a period of days, causing a lethal accumulation of the gas inside the building on Dec. 23.
The accumulation of gas would have caused the accidental carbon monoxide poisoning of 71-year-old Paul Ray, 58-year-old Angelika Morton and 81-year-old Gary Morton, according to officials. However, an official toxicology report has not confirmed this.
The Sweet Grass County Ambulance and deputies were dispatched after a report of a 71-year-old man possibly having a heart attack at 8 a.m.
The Sweet Grass County Sheriff's Office released the following information:
On Dec 23, 2022 at about 8:00 am, The Sweet Grass County 911 center received a call of a 71 y/o male possibly having a heart attack at 761 Stephens Hill Rd, north of Reed Point.
Sweet Grass County Ambulance and Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched. Approximately 2 miles from the residence the ambulance was unable to continue. Deputies loaded personnel and equipment into their vehicle and continued to the residence. A mutual aid request was sent out to Sweet Grass Co. SAR and Stillwater Ambulance. A helicopter was also requested.
When responders arrived on scene, they discovered three unresponsive adults in an out building. As they opened a door a strong odor of gas was detected and Big Timber Fire was requested.
Victims were pulled out of the building by responders but were beyond resuscitative efforts. Victims were identified as residing at 761 Stephens Hill Rd. 71 y/o Paul Ray, 58 y/o Angelika Morton and 81 y/o Gary Morton, by the Sweet Grass County Coroners Office. The three were taken to the State Crime Lab in Billings for autopsy. We are still waiting on toxicology, but accidental carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected.
An investigation was done by the Sweet Grass Co. Sheriff’s Office to determine the source and/or cause of the monoxide. During that investigation it was discovered that an exhaust pipe was not secured properly to a generator inside the building where the victims were found. It is believed that due to this unsecured pipe, as the generator ran it filled the building with carbon monoxide over a period of a few days during the latest cold weather event, culminating in lethal levels of carbon monoxide inside the building on Friday the 23rd.
Notifications of next of kin have been made and we wish to extend our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and their many friends in the community.
Sheriff/Coroner, Sweet Grass County