AVON, Ind. (WISH) — Officials are warning about the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning after an 18-year-old Ben Davis High School senior was killed in a car crash earlier this summer.
Police said Savannah Bettis was in a car with her boyfriend when he lost control of the wheel on June 4.
The car went off the road along Ronald Reagan Parkway near Rockville Road in Avon.
Investigators are calling this a bizarre and tragic case all around. Brian Nugent, assistant police chief with the Avon Police Department, said the couple did not know that there was a leak in the exhaust system.
Nugent said the passenger compartment was also down making it easier for the dangerous gas to circulate inside of the old Nissan.
Bettis was just one week away from graduating high school when her life was cut short.
Police said her boyfriend Jesse Hurt, 20, was behind the wheel and survived the impact.
She told her boyfriend during that car ride that she was not feeling well.
“We believe at some point while they were in the vehicle, they determined that there was something medically wrong with Savannah,” said Nugent. “They were actually on their way to the hospital to try to seek treatment.”
Toxicology results came back two months later, which help investigators to determine the cause of the crash.
Police learned that the driver and passenger had high levels of carbon monoxide in their system.
“At that point we conducted a very detailed forensic analysis of the vehicle itself that was involved,” said Nugent. “We located a significant leak from the exhaust system that was leaking into the internal passenger compartment.”
Police said Bettis weighed around 80 pounds at the time of her death. Nearly 50 percent of her blood was saturated with carbon monoxide.
“When you take your car in for a routine maintenance, take the time to make sure some of these systems are inspected, the exhaust systems,’ said Nugent.
Beck Service Center said in most cases the dangerous gas should blow out of your car if everything is working properly, but that may not be the case with older cars.
“The only way you’re going to get it in your car if you have major holes in your exhaust system and major holes throughout your vehicle,” said Bill Amonett, Beck Service Center. “When you’re traveling 30, 40, 50 miles an hour, the wind is supposed to blow it underneath the car and out, but again on these older cars just make sure that the floor boards are not rotting and the thinner walls are not rotted out.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include headaches,vomiting, and feeling weak and confused.
Experts said if you come across those symptoms while driving, it’s best to roll down your windows, try to get some fresh air, and bring your car in for a check as a precaution.
Click here to learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning.