Autopsies confirm carbon monoxide not responsible for infant deaths in Durham County

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – On Thursday, the Medical Examiner’s Office released a statement that said preliminary and confirmatory testing showed three recent infant deaths in Durham County were not linked to carbon monoxide.

Last week, officials with EMS said at a community meeting that two infant deaths at McDougald Terrace may have been linked to the recent carbon monoxide exposures at the McDougald Terrace public housing complex.

Officials with the Medical Examiner’s office did not release the causes of death.

At a press conference Thursday, officials with the Durham Housing Authority said that a total of 256 families voluntarily evacuated as result of more than a dozen recent carbon monoxide exposures at the public housing complex.

Anthony Scott, the Durham Housing Authority’s CEO, said they have now tested 140 homes for carbon monoxide and 50 apartments will have to have stoves or heaters replaced.

After doing some digging into the Durham Housing Authority’s 5-year plan from 2016, CBS 17 found an approved plan to demolish more than 346 apartments by 2018 and to redevelop 360 apartments by 2023.

CBS 17 asked Scott at the press conference why those apartments weren’t upgraded back then but didn’t have an answer for us.

Jarvis Straiter said his family plans to move out of McDougald Terrace.

“They just keep trying to re-patch over stuff to where basically problems never get fixed in the end,” Straiter said.

Ronye Rogers’ family chose to evacuate as a result of the recent carbon monoxide exposures.

“My main concern is the children, and I don’t want nothing to happen to my children,” Rogers said.

Right now her family is still in limbo as she comes home everyday to cook food to take back to the hotel for her two children.

Rogers said she hopes DHA will fix the problem soon so her family can come back home to McDougald Terrace.

“I really don’t have a problem with living here because it’s a place to live,” Rogers said. “Its a place for me and my kids to call home. It’s not the best place, but its the place that we call home right now.”

Durham Housing officials said that inspections and repairs will continue into next week.

DHA will hold another community meeting at Burton Elementary on Saturday at 11 a.m. to update families on the evacuations and inspections.

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