Mother killed, wife seriously injured after dry ice accident

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. -- A man’s wife is in critical condition and his mother is dead after a rare, but lethal accident with dry ice.

The 51-year-old University Place man called police after finding his 51-year-old wife and his 77-year-old mother unconscious in their car around 4 a.m. Friday.

The man runs an ice cream delivery business that uses dry ice. He stored several coolers of it in the back seat of the car.

Pierce County Medical Examiners say the 77-year-old woman likely died from asphyxiation due to the dry ice.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s explained the incident as an extremely rare and tragic accident. “It’s something I never knew could happen. We’ve all been around dry ice, but in enough quantities and a sealed condition it can be toxic and lethal, as now we know, unfortunately," said spokesperson Ed Troyer.

Dry ice is a solid form of carbon dioxide that transforms to gas when exposed to open air. According to the University of Washington’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety, the effects are lethal when confined to non-ventilated spaces.