A Kentucky community is in mourning after a father and his two young children died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Mayra Garcia, 8, Cruz Isaac Garcia, 3, and their dad, 39-year-old Juvenal Garcia Mora, were discovered unresponsive in the family’s garage last Wednesday morning. Though Mayra was unconscious, she remained alive for another day, before passing away on Thursday.
“They were the sweetest family I’ve ever known. It’s just left a hole in my heart because I loved those children,” their next-door-neighbor, Joan Johnson, 85, told PEOPLE. “The little girl was sort of shy … the little boy, he just loved to follow his daddy.”
She added that the situation was utterly heartbreaking.
“I’ll never see those kids again.” Johnson said. “I don’t know what the mother’s gonna do… that’s her whole family.”
When the group was discovered by a fellow family member, the garage door was closed, with the father outside the vehicle and the young children sitting in the car. Despite the suspicious circumstances surrounding the horrific incident, a hospital spokesperson said that no foul play is suspected.
“It was a horrible, horrible accident,” they stated. “I don’t believe there’s any foul play, it’s just a horrible situation that’s happened.”
Louisville Police Department spokeswoman Lt. Emily McKinley said that Garcia’s wife had left for work and he was preparing to take their kids to school when the tragedy unfolded. She noted that the poisoning happened “very, very quickly.”
“It appeared to be that he had warmed the car up while it was in the garage, and trying to get the kids out the door to school and start the day,” she said.
According to a report in the Courier-Journal, Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Scott Russ confirmed that Mayra passed away at Norton Children’s Hospital just before 6 p.m. on Thursday.
A GoFundMe campaign has since been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.
The page notes that its chief fundraising aim is to support “a MOM in need.”
The description continues:
“As many people know there was a tragic accident that happened in the community of Valley Station, Ky. Three members of a close family were lost the morning of Wednesday, Nov 28th! This will support Margarita the mother and wife of three beautiful angels: her husband Juvenal (39), Mayra (8 yr old daughter, Cruz (3 yr old son). Margarita is a hardworking, kind, and loving person. Please donate and share to help financially for the funerals.”
So far, over $12,000 has been raised, with messages of condolence and support pouring in on the comments section.
“May the Lord sustain you in your time of need!” one person wrote. “I had a tragic loss many years ago and I know other people’s prayers kept me going.”
“So sorry for your loss Margarita! Sending hugs and prayers in the loss of your family,” another added.
The CDC outlines crucial safety steps that must be taken in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning that is caused by a motor vehicle:
- “Have a mechanic check the exhaust system of your car or truck every year. A small leak in the exhaust system can lead to a build up of CO inside the car.
- Never run your car or truck inside a garage that is attached to a house even with the garage door open. Always open the door to a detached garage to let in fresh air when you run a car or truck inside.
- If you drive a car or SUV with a tailgate, when you open the tailgate open the vents or windows to make sure air is moving through. If only the tailgate is open CO from the exhaust will be pulled into the car or SUV.”
Do pray for the family at this devastating time.