Health Warnings Over ‘Silent Killer’ After Mom, Boy Die in Lat Phrao Parking Lot

A woman and her young son suffocated to death in their sleep Friday inside their vehicle parked outside a Lat Phrao area restaurant. Photo: Matichon

BANGKOK — Health experts called attention to the danger of sleeping inside a vehicle Sunday after a mother and her young son suffocated to death in a suburban neighborhood of the capital.

The warning came after Sutthida Sakuleang, 49, and her 5-year-old son Kampanat Dutsadee, were found dead Friday inside the Ford Escape they were sleeping in while she waited for her husband to finish dining with friends Friday in Lat Phrao district.

“If the car is moving, carbon monoxide will be dispersed into the air by the wind. But if we park the car with the air conditioner on to sleep, whether it’s an old car or new one, carbon monoxide can leak into the cabin,” said Veerachai Putthawong, a professor of chemistry at Kasetsart University.

Autopsy results from the Police General Hospital yesterday identified suffocation as the cause of death for Sutthida and Kampanat.

Bunnum Dutsadee, 60, the deceased’s husband and father, said he gave the car key to his wife to rest in the car while he was dining. Two hours later, he went out to discover they had died. Police from Chok Chai Police station inspected security camera footage yesterday and said they noticed nothing suspicious. The car will be further examined by authorities.

Sutthida’s sister, 47-year-old Rattikal Sakuleang, insisted her sister and nephew were in good health, but said she did not suspect foul play, as Sutthida would routinely wait inside the car with the air conditioner turned on. Rattikal said she was unaware of any issues between the husband and wife.

Kasetsart’s Veerachai urged people to be aware of such daily, commonplace dangers, saying that he has seen many deaths similar to Friday’s incident in recent years. The level of harm depends on the amount of carbon monoxide is in the air, he said, adding that at peak levels death can result in less than two hours.