Mum and daughter died in burger van tragedy while decorating for son’s birthday | The Sun
A MUM and daughter were found dead in a burger van after they inhaled deadly carbon monoxide fumes, an inquest heard.
Leah Churchill, 50, was decorating the van for son Tyla's birthday with daughter Brooke Wanstall, 17, when the horror unfolded.
Tragically, Tyla found his mum and sister dead on his birthday when he went to open the snack wagon for business.
An inquest heard how Leah and Brooke were overcome by carbon monoxide after they started up a petrol generator inside.
Detective Sergeant Zak Foote said it appeared that "one or the other" had started the machine for lighting or heat "unaware that they would be overcome by carbon monoxide".
The hearing was told both mum and daughter had fatal levels of the gas in their system.
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They had let themselves into the Meet 'n' Greet snack wagon in Whitstable, Kent, on February 13.
The pair wanted to decorate the van with balloons and banners as a surprise for Tyla's 26th birthday the following day.
But they were quickly overcome by fumes after starting the generator.
Tyla arrived to find his mum and sister's lifeless bodies inside with a birthday card left on the side.
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He called 999 but tragically Leah and Brooke couldn't be saved and were declared dead at the scene.
Assistant coroner Catherine Wood said it was not a health and safety issue as neither of them were at work at the time of the tragedy.
She said: "My only conclusion is that their deaths were accidental – most likely due to the generator having been turned on in an enclosed space."
Tyla previously told how he made the tragic discovery as he arrived to open up for work.
He usually kept the generator outside during working hours but kept it locked up at night inside for security reasons.
Tyla said he at first believed Leah and Brooke had "fallen asleep" before the heartbreaking realisation dawned on him.
He added: "I smelt fumes but it just didn't register straight away but it became obvious they were both dead.
"I called the police and ambulance but it was the firefighters who told me it was likely carbon monoxide poisoning.
"It's heartbreaking to think they spent their last few moments just trying to put a smile on my face.
"Mum made a fatal mistake and we don't want this to happen to anyone else.
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"Be aware of this thing, people. If you haven't got a carbon monoxide alarm go and get one. It is a serious killer."
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