A woman and her young daughter were found dead inside their SUV. Evidence points to possible battery or charging system failure.
Back in June of this year, Florida first responders came upon a 2006 Porsche Cayenne that was incapacitated on the side of the highway after a single car collision with the guardrail. What they found inside would become the source of much speculation.
The bodies of a 45-year old woman, identified as Latifa Lincoln and her three-year-old daughter Maksmilla were found inside the stranded Cayenne. A state trooper walked up to the locked car and broke the window to gain access. According to a report filed by Osceola County Sheriff's office obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, the three troopers present smelled "a foul, caustic chemical odour."
According to report, the radio was still on and the car was running. They found that the passengers had vomited and there were reports of what appeared to be splotchy rashes on their skin.
Foul play was ruled out early on by officials and speculations were that it could have been carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Four months on, and the Orlando medical examiner’s office has released the results of its autopsies. As reported by WFLA, Assistant Medical Examiner Doctor Gary Utz said he suspects both mother and daughter died of hydrogen sulfide intoxication, likely as the result of a defect in the car’s battery.
“It’s unprecedented,” Utz said. “I haven’t been able to find another case.” According to Utz, they found elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide in the victim’s urine. Combined with first responder reports, the speculation that it could be hydrogen sulfide seems likely.
Hydrogen sulfide is a colourless gas that can smell like rotten eggs. It is extremely poisonous, corrosive, flammable, and explosive.
Although typically safe, overcharging a lead-acid car battery can produce toxic hydrogen sulfide gas. The battery in this generation of Cayenne is located under the driver seat.
The 2006 Porsche Cayenne owned by Latifa Lincoln was sold to her by local East Orlando used car dealership Auto Express. WFLA reported that a finance manager at the dealership stated the car was never involved in a collision and had only seen fabric repairs to the rear of passenger seat before being sold to Lincoln. According to the dealership, the SUV was repossessed by the insurance company and has since been scrapped.
Utz said that the car’s battery was sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for further testing. Speaking to WLFA a spokeswoman for the NHTSA said, “We do not have an open investigation on this," but said that she would check with the vehicle defects division if there were plans to test the battery.
Until there are more details on the surrounding circumstances, Utz says he will hold off on confirming the cause of death for this family.
Photo: WESH Orlando