AITKIN -- Autopsy results are expected today on Alizabeth Leathers, a 13-year-old Aitkin girl who was found dead in a fish house on an Aitkin County lake.
The Aitkin County Sheriff's Department believes Alizabeth Leathers suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. She and her brother, 11-year-old Jerome Leathers, were spending the night in a fish house on Elm Island Lake.
An autopsy is being performed by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office. Aitkin County Undersheriff Scott Turner said he expects the preliminary autopsy and cause of death results sometime today.
Jerome Leathers was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where Monday he was reported in critical condition. At the family's request, information on his condition was not being released today, a hospital spokeswoman said.
There was a propane heater in the fish house, in which Alizabeth and Jerome Leathers were sleeping Saturday night.
Many ice fishermen rely on portable propane heaters to warm their fish houses. But combustion requires oxygen and if propane heaters are used in small enclosures they quickly use all available oxygen. To ensure safety, leave a window or door open at all times while the heater is burning, said Tim Smalley, DNR safety specialist.
"A lot of people, myself included, have portable fish houses with zipper doors. What I do is leave one door open at the top and the other door open at the bottom. Carbon monoxide is heavier than air so it sinks. By venting the house at both the top and the bottom I make sure I have good air flow through the house."
For an added measure of safety, equip the fish house with a carbon monoxide detector.
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