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His keyless car killed him while he slept. New legislation could save others

Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

Pennsylvanian Russell Fish was "paranoid about everything," so much so, he even locked his bedroom door each night, his daughter said.

But no lock would keep his killer out the night of Feb. 15 this year.

With his wife out of town, Fish, 68, returned home from a Subway restaurant, parked his keyless Toyota Forerunner SUV in his attached garage, ate and went to bed with his dog, Angel, by his side.

Neither ever woke up.

"My dad was dead in his bed," said Tabitha Etlinger, Fish's 35-year-old daughter. "His dog was seizing on the floor when the rescuers broke down the door the next morning. They tried to resuscitate the dog, but they could not save him either."

The killer was carbon monoxide poisoning from the SUV that Fish accidentally left running in his garage for nearly 10 hours.


Fish is one of four people in the United States known to have died this year from carbon monoxide poisoning after leaving a keyless ignition car running in their garage.

Auto safety experts say it's an ongoing problem. They want legislation mandating that automakers install automatic engine shutoffs -- along with software that would make a car immobile if a driver left it in gear.

Such technology exists, and some carmakers, including the Detroit Three, offer versions of the safety technology on most of their vehicles. Toyota Motor North America announced this week that it will add automatic engine shutoff and automatic park technology to its 2020 model year lineup.

Blaming victims?


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