Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Date: December 19, 1989
On December 19, 1989, Glenn and Annie Murphy and their four children moved just north of St. Louis, Missouri. It was cold inside the Murphys' new house, so Annie asked Glenn to light the furnace while she unpacked boxes. Glenn was aware that the gas company had not yet inspected the furnace, but he decided to turn it on anyway. He then turned on the jets and ignited the pilot. While the three older children, ranging in age from eight to fourteen, were at school, and Annie and six-year-old Queeon spent the day unpacking, Glenn shuttled back and forth from their old house to the new one.
Around 4:00 in the afternoon, Glenn returned to the new house with more boxes and the three children who had been at school. He pulled into the driveway and honked the horn, expecting Annie to come outside and open the garage. When Annie didn't appear, Glenn got out of the car and knocked on the front door. Through the window, he saw Annie slowly walking toward the door. She opened it and told Glenn that her eyes and nose were burning. She felt weak and nauseous, and she and Queeon were both tired and had been sleeping. Glenn responded that Annie was probably just tired from the move and would feel better if she rested.
By 6:00 that evening, Annie complained that she was feeling much worse and was barely able to move. She asked Glenn to take her to the hospital, so Glenn left fourteen-year-old Dominic in charge of the children and took Annie to Regional Medical Center. In the emergency room, Annie had to wait to be treated, but she didn't mind because she'd actually started feeling a little better. Besides, her favorite program, Rescue 911, was being broadcast over the television in the waiting room. It just so happened that the victim in this particular segment of the show was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and was complaining of symptoms identical to Annie's. "That's what's happening to me!" Annie excitedly told Glenn.
Suddenly, Annie and Glenn panicked about the children. The furnace was still on and all the windows were closed. Glenn got in the car and sped home, praying for his children's safety but fearful that they might not be alive when he arrived. He pounded on the door. Through the window, he saw Dominic pull himself up from the floor by the front window curtains. "Daddy, something's wrong," cried Dominic as he opened the door. Glenn rushed inside, opened the windows, and told Dominic to go outside. He ran to check on the girls and found all three in a semiconscious state.
A neighbor's call to 911 sent rescue units to the scene from Moline Fire Protection District and Christian Hospital Ambulance. The children were transported to St. Louis Children's Hospital, where tests revealed very high levels of carbon monoxide in their bloodstream. They were treated with pure oxygen, and they were released the same day with no permanent effects. Doctors believe that had the children remained in their home for another half-hour, they could have died. Annie was also treated for carbon monoxide poisoning and released that day, also with no permanent effects.
Annie and Glenn realize how close their children came to perishing and have learned the importance of having a new or unfamiliar furnace inspected by a professional from the gas company. They are both very thankful that Rescue 911 was on the air that night in the emergency waiting room because it saved their children's lives. "I love my wife and kids," says Glenn, "and I thank the Lord that he answered my prayers."