April 5 (UPI) — Authorities in Mexico said a rusted water heater may be the source of leaked gas that caused the deaths of an Iowa family vacationing there over spring break.
Christopher Martinez, the main investigator in Tulum, where the family died, told the Des Moines Register the family members asphyxiated by gas from the faulty heater, which had rusted in the area’s humid climate.
But the State Attorney’s Office in Mexico’s Quiantana Roo told ABC News a definitive cause has not been established. The office said Martinez only told the newspaper that “one of the lines of investigation is that the gas might have come from the water heater, which looked damaged.”
The family traveled to Tulum on March 15 and were found dead in the condo eight days later. Prosecutors said the family had been dead 36 to 48 hours prior to being discovered. Relatives expected them home and reported them missing when they hadn’t returned.
The family were identified as Kevin Sharp, 41; Amy Sharp, 38; son Sterling, 12; and daughter Adriana, 7.
A later inspection found the water heater in the rented condo was leaking gas. Autopsies revealed the four died after inhaling the toxic fumes.
When they took the heater apart, investigators found rust had corrupted the system. The warranty of the Delta Raptor water heater purchased in 2012 expired last year, Martinez told the Register.
The State Attorney’s Office said the cause of the Sharps’ deaths was under investigation.