Carbon monoxide suspected in 'untimely death'

Firefighters believe a Milford man was working on a motorcycle in his garage in north Milford Tuesday when he was overcome by carbon monoxide.

The man died Tuesday and city officials are still investigating to determine if carbon monoxide caused his “untimely death.” His name has not been officially released by authorities, but family friends say the deceased man is Ralph Mastrianna, 55.

The man's son told fire officials that he had been working on a motorcycle in the garage. Fire officials said there were no doors or windows open in the garage at the time.

On Tuesday, April 22, at 7:06 p.m., the Milford Fire Department responded to 144 Juniper Drive for a possible carbon monoxide (CO) problem.

The notification came by way of the Milford Hospital Emergency Room, after a patient was brought in for cardiac arrest and tested high in CO levels. Firefighters entered the home with air packs and gas meters and detected elevated levels of CO and hydrogen cyanide in both the basement and the garage, where the patient was originally found, according to Fire Department Spokesman Greg Carman.

Police Department Spokesman Jeff Nielsen confirmed the department is investigating.

Carman said hydrogen cyanide is "a gas that can be produced by incomplete combustion, like carbon monoxide. It is not found from a natural gas leak."

Hydrogen cyanide "acts on the body similar to CO by blocking oxygen from the bloodstream," Carman added.

The Milford Fire Department stressed the importance of having both working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of the home.

“You should check them once a month and change the batteries twice a year,” Carman said. “Any detector that is over 10 years old should be replaced with a new one.”