REDUCING THE BURDEN AND RISK FOR FAMILIES AFTER THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE WITH CRIME SCENE CLEANUP SERVICES
I’ve seen my fair share of gore during my years with my crime scene cleanup team. Though murder scenes hold clues to senseless carnage, showing up to carry out suicide cleanup efforts tends to be the worst as far as I’m concerned. These are situations where no outside person brought malicious intent into a home; they’re simply incidents where someone passed away alone and afraid. Many times, the death is accidental, which was the case with one of our recent jobs.
UPON ARRIVING ON SCENE, OFFICIALS TOLD US AN ELDERLY MAN HAD PASSED AWAY DURING THE NIGHT.
His son apparently called to check on him every day but had stopped by in person on his way to work because there had been no answer that morning. He let himself into the home and made his way to the bedroom where he found his father unresponsive.
If there was any bright spot in this heartbreaking situation, it was that the poor man’s body hadn’t lain there for days, swelling and splitting open from the gases produced during the deterioration process. No one should have to see something like that, especially when a loved one is the victim. As we entered the home, I noticed the faint smell of kerosene lingering in the air. I’m no forensic expert, but I could only assume this meant carbon monoxide poisoning was the culprit.
One of the last officers remaining on scene led us to the bedroom where the body was found. In line with my theory, drying vomit dripped down the side of the bed, puddling on the floor. Nausea is one of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. A few feet away, closer to the door, stains from the victim’s final biological functions were noticeable, as was their odor. That was where the body was found. He must’ve awoke at some point and tried to escape, but by that time, he was probably too weak and disoriented to do so.
Since the son only missed getting there in time to rescue his father by a matter of a few hours, this wasn’t as macabre as the typical unattended death cleanup, but there was still plenty of work to be done. The bodily fluids, even though they were present in very small amounts, required our experience in bio-hazard remediation services. This isn’t something to be handled with off-the-shelf disinfectants and paper towels, and these substances can’t be disposed of via the nearest trash can.
Laws and regulations surrounding the safe cleansing of these scenes and disposal of any biological hazards are extremely stringent, and we have to follow them to the letter for our own safety as well as that of the general population. Though we were told the elderly gentleman was in relatively good health, the potential for infectious disease decontamination also had to be addressed.