Tourist death brings attention to silent killer

Relatives of promising professional football player want to raise awareness about CO dangers

Carbon monoxide poisoning took the young life of professional football player Farouk Bseiso earlier this summer in Prague.

Bseiso, 24, came to Prague at the beginning of July like any other tourist. He came with his girlfriend, Megan Rowell, and was meant to meet with other family members throughout the month. He rented an apartment near the Palladium shopping center in Prague 1.

On their second night in Prague, Bseiso was in the shower while Rowell was at the sink of the small apartment bathroom. Bseiso suddenly collapsed and later died from carbon monoxide poisoning. It is suspected that the water heater and poor ventilation were the cause. Rowell was in intensive care after the accident and is currently seeking further treatment in the US for CO poisoning.

Bseiso was from Raleigh, North Carolina, where he went to North Carolina State University. Upon graduation, he received an offer to play professional football in Finland. He moved to Finland in January.

Back in the United States, Bseiso’s family is doing all that they can to warn others of this not-so-rare occurrence. Czech detectives who investigated the crime told the family that there were five other cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in Prague recently.

“To hear from the police investigating that this is the fifth carbon monoxide [poisoning] in the last couple of months gives me no choice but to raise my voice and do what I can to stop other innocents from an untimely and unnecessary death,” said Sylva Bessisso, aunt of Bseiso.

Officials say that appliances should be inspected professionally each year. If an accident occurs in he Czech Republic, the owner of the apartment could face being fined.

Death from carbon monoxide have hit athletes previously. Tennis star Vytautas Gerulaitis died from it in 1994 when he stayed in an improperly ventilated guest house in the US. Other athletes to die from it include Scottish football players Bobby McKean and Norrie McCathie, English footballer Micky Cave, and golfer Jug McSpaden.

Celebrity victims include Albanian pop singer Anita Bitri-Prapaniku, Croatian model Ana Grepo, horror novelist James Kisner and singer-songwriter Rosie Nix Adams.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas and is toxic if exposed to humans for a prolonged time.

It is released into the air from cigarette smoke or fires, vehicle exhaust or faulty appliances. Humans can be easily be poisoned if they are exposed to the gas in small spaces with little ventilation.

Most people don’t realize they are inhaling such a dangerous gas and that’s why CO is commonly known as the silent killer. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and in extreme cases, death.

According to the World Health Organization, 77 people died in the Czech Republic in 2012 from “accidental poisoning by and exposure to other gases and vapors.” The Czech Republic is in the top 10 on the list. Romania is first with over 300 deaths.

A simple solution to preventing carbon monoxide poisoning is for families or property owner to invest in carbon monoxide sensors. The sensors cost as little as 300 Kč and signal when there are dangerous levels of CO present.

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