It was a tragedy that could have been avoided. On the night of May 31, 2009, 12-year old Caitlin Brondolo spent the night at her best friend Amber Sue Wilson's house. Amber's mother, Loretta Wilson, left her SUV running in the garage after she and the girls returned from a shopping trip. As the girls slept, carbon monoxide fumes from the vehicle made their way into the home, ending the lives of two beautiful young girls.
According to reports, when Amber alerted her mother that the engine on the SUV was still running, Wilson ignored her daughter and claimed the noise was not coming from the engine, but from an engine cooling fan. In December 2009, Wilson pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and got five years of probation.
The Law Office of Cytryn & Velazquez had the privilege of assisting the parents of Caitlin Brondolo during this very difficult time. Coral Springs Attorney Mark Abzug referred the case to Attorney Dan Cytryn, and they then worked on the case together as co-counsel. Mr. Cytryn took a reduced fee on the Brondolos' wrongful death claim against Wilson.
Unfortunately, cases involving negligence occur far too often. Hopefully, this tragic incident can serve as a valuable lesson in understanding the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it from happening in your home. "Our loss could have been prevented had there been a carbon monoxide detector in their home," says Jill Brondolo. "Our Foundation urges every parent to purchase a carbon monoxide detector for their home."
Knowledge about carbon monoxide and prevention is extremely important to keep yourself and those around you safe. The Florida Department of Health website has a list of precautions to take in your home to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Some tips they recommend include:
- Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in homes
- Combustion heating and ventilation systems should be inspected yearly by a professional
- Charcoal should never be burned inside a home or garage
Before buying a carbon monoxide detector, it is important to know what to look for. According to Consumer Search, the brands First Alert and Kidde are at the top of the list. It is also recommended to install at least one detector for each floor in your home. Here are some recommendations from Consumer Search when buying a carbon monoxide alarm:
- Look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) symbol saying "Single Station Carbon Monoxide Alarm"
- Look for an alarm with a digital display
- The alarm in the detector should be 85 decibels
- Make sure there is a test button on the detector
The Brondolos have set up the Caitlin Brondolo Charitable Foundation to increase the level of attention regarding carbon monoxide and its hazards. Each year the Foundation will also award a golf scholarship to a deserving student.
Caitlin Brondolo was a talented and artistic girl who loved golf and excelled in school. Her favorite color was purple, which is reflected on the foundation's website. Visit The Caitlin Brondolo Foundation website for more information.