Deaf woman dies from carbon monoxide from her keyless car

An unfortunate event happened recently in our Deaf community. Connie Dotson, from Kentucky, passed away from carbon monoxide poisoning after forgetting to turn off her keyless car in her garage. Dotson was a well known advocate who graduated from Gallaudet University with a history degree then went to work three years on Capitol Hill for the late Senator Alan Dixon of Illinois. After that, Dotson worked at the Internal Revenue Service and then for the last 26 years, she worked at Veterans Administration Medical Center.

The Daily Moth reached out to Rita Troxell, a close friend of Dotson for 38 years, to share what happened.

RITA TROXELL: Last year, Connie’s husband bought a Toyota RAV4 and it was keyless. I’d only ridden in it a few times, but I remember that it was keyless. So apparently, on that Monday all day, I’d talked with her during my lunch break around noon at work. I called her through Facebook Messenger’s video chat. We chatted like we normally do before she had to leave. I think she had finished work around 4pm. She pulled into her garage and close the garage door. Either she didn’t press the button hard enough or she forgot because she was busy or she was tired. She might’ve forgotten to turn off the engine. She went into the house where she needed to tend to her 5 cats.

Text: Connie’s family tried to reach her in the morning, but received no response. Fearing that she had a medical emergency, they dialed 911.

911 broke into her door and found her unconscious, already dead. There was carbon monoxide in the house. It was suspected to be the cause of death. At first, we were confused because her 5 cats had survived and they should be dead. The firemen explained that when the toxic fumes seeped into the house from the garage, it goes up into the air. The atmosphere near the floor still has sufficient oxygen for cats to survive on. If the fumes had continued dwell, then it might eventually move lower and the oxygen would disappear. At that point, the toxic fumes stayed up in the air so that’s why these cats survived.

Renca: We asked Troxell to share a little bit of who Dotson was as a person.

TROXELL: She was a strong, strong, strong advocate for animals. She also had a passion for her church and her faith in God. She would pray for people and also, if you were a deaf person in a hospital, no matter where you are, she would try to find a way to go visit them at the hospitals because often these people are left alone.

Renca: Thank you, Troxell. We also got an important message from Virginia Moore, the executive director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Moore encourages how you can make a difference.

VIRGINIA MOORE: It’s a very dangerous, a very sad situation and it doesn’t happen to only deaf and hard of hearing, but also hearing people. These situations have been happening for a long time now and the automotive industry has been ignoring it. Right now, there is a bill called the “Park It” Bill that is currently in the US Congress. You all can help us ensure that not one other person will die from this senseless situation. Call your US congresspeople and notify them about the Park It Bill. Ask them to get it moving, put the bill to a floor vote and get it passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Pass this bill for the safety of all people who still have it. All of you can make a difference.

Renca: Thank you, Moore, for sharing. For more information about this, there are links in the transcript below. There were many comments on Facebook expressing grief for the death of Dotson. She was 54 years old when she passed away and is survived by her husband.

The PARKIT ACT bill numbers: S543


That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light!