Utah father and son die from CO poisoning at Flaming Gorge
Published: February 19, 2014 10:47AM
Updated: February 19, 2014 09:34AM

A propane heater appears to have caused the death of a Utah father and his teenage son, who were poisoned by carbon monoxide while camping at Flaming Gorge.

Steven McConnell, 58, and 17-year-old Matthew McConnell, of Stansbury Park, were camping with a group in ice fishing huts this weekend in the Big Firehole area, according to a press statement by the Sweetwater County, Wyo., sheriff’s department.

The McConnells went to sleep on cots in their own huts about 1 a.m. Monday; when their companions tried to wake them about 9 a.m., they were unresponsive, deputies reported. One member of the group went to the boat ramp about a half mile away and flagged down a passer-by to drive to where he could get cell service and call for help. However responders found the McConnells had died.

They found a lit propane heater and propane tank inside the hut, apparently the source of carbon monoxide.

Laurie McConnell, sister and daughter of Matthew and Steven, said she is mystified that the heater was left on.

“It’s a shock,” she said. “My dad was so careful about everything. I wish people could know how organized my dad is, and how safety-minded he is.”

She said the family can only speculate as to how this happened to two lifelong sportsmen who have camped, fished and hunted for as long as she can remember.

“This was a terrible accident and no foul play is suspected,” said sheriff’s Col. Rick Hawkins. “If you are camping in any shelter with a burning heater or a stove, it’s important that your tent, hut or camper be well-ventilated.”

ealberty@sltrib.com