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Dry ice linked to death of Washington woman traveling in Dippin' Dots' deliveryman's car

Dry ice linked to death of Washington woman traveling in Dippin' Dots' deliveryman's car

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A Washington woman died and another is in serious condition after a freak accident caused by dry ice inside a new car. 

Pierce County officials say the wife of a Dippin' Dots deliveryman was driving her mother home late Thursday night when fumes from dry ice coolers in the car created a toxic mix, The News Tribune reports. 

Dry ice, often used when shipping perishable goods, is a solid form of carbon dioxide that can displace oxygen, University of Washington's Environmental Health and Safety department notes. It shouldn't be stored in closed containers or spaces. 

Early the next morning, the deliveryman found his wife and his mother-in-law unconscious inside the car, parked a few blocks away from his home. He broke his wife out of the car using a rock and called 911, the Tribune reports. His mother-in-law, a 77-year-old woman, was pronounced dead at the scene and his wife was in critical condition as of Friday. 

The county medical examiner said the death was likely suffocation, KOMO News reports. 

“He had four coolers full of dry ice because he delivered Dippin’ Dots to various locations,” county sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer told the Tribune. “He recently got a new car. The newer car probably had better sealing.”

Deaths linked to dry ice are rare, but it has been a factor in the past. In 2016, a woman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she believed her brother, who owned a delivery business, died from dry ice exposure following an unexplained coma. A 20-year-old man hiding in a dry ice factory container, avoiding confrontation, died from carbon dioxide intoxication, according to a 2009 article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Forensic Sciences.

In recent years, cities have used chunks of dry ice to suffocate rats in urban areas. 

More: Death by dry ice: How cities are using a chilling killer to zap rats

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

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