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Dry ice is believed to have left one woman dead and another in critical condition after they were found unresponsive in a car in Pierce County, Washington.
The owner of the car is an ice cream salesman who had dry ice in four coolers in the car. The women were found in the car a few blocks from the man's home, CNN reported.
"His mom and his wife got in the vehicle to give his mother a ride home," said Detective Ed Troyer, a spokesman for Pierce County Sheriff's Department "The fumes escaped from the coolers."
The man's 77-year-old mother is reported to have died of suffocation, and his wife to have been in critical condition, according to CNN.
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. Instead of melting into a liquid as it thaws, dry ice turns into odorless and colorless gas. In enclosed spaces, high levels of carbon dioxide can kill people within minutes.
The situation involving the two women "was a combination of things that went terribly wrong," said Troyer, who suggested that the car's ventilation may not have been sufficient to remove the carbon dioxide emitted by the dry ice, CNN reported.
A few other similar cases involving dry ice in small spaces have been documented in the U.S. in the past.
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