Woman dies of carbon monoxide poisoning at Lake Nacimiento

May 31, 2013

CarbonMonxideA Salinas woman died this week after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning while boating at Lake Nacimiento Sunday.

Doctors declared 23-year-old Sandy Valencia legally dead Monday, but left her on life support until Thursday to complete an organ donation procedure.

Valencia and a man with whom she was boating had been sitting at the back of a boat Sunday near the engine exhaust. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputies and Monterey County Park Rangers received notice around 4 p.m. that the two boaters may had been suffering from carbon monoxide poising.

When the rangers and deputies arrived, Valencia had stopped breathing, and they initiated CPR.

Responders then transported Valencia, as well as the man, to a local hospital. Doctors declared Valencia legally dead the next day.

The Sheriff’s Office is yet to provide the name and condition of the man.


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Very sad. When houseboating they would always warn you about CO poisoning in the back of the boat by the swin step when the generator was running.

And it can happen with all kinds of boats with combustible engines.

Not to mention the fire hazard if the engine is “combustible” ;-)

My hands don’t always type what my mind is telling them, but I gave them a good slap and they will now type “combustion”. Thanks for pointing that out.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around this… unless they were inside some sealed up cabin (a la a yacht) I fail to see how the CO builds up significantly enough out on the open water with (presumably) fresh air and wind blowing around.

This is pretty sad, overall; thankfully, she was an organ donor and potentially saved another’s life (or multiple people’s).

says, You are among a great number of people who don’t realize you can be poisoned by carbon monoxide from boats right out in the open air. Our granddaughter and her best friend were poisoned at Lake Powell on 7-7-07. Look up Megan’s Cause for some good information that may help you save a life. We are so fortunate that our granddaughter survived, but unfortunately, her best friend Megan didn’t. They were outside in the open air in the water when they were poisoned. It happens with both inboard and outboard motors, and from generators. In our case it was an ordinary cabin cruiser. An average boat motor emits the equivalent carbon monoxide of 188 cars and it can incapacitate or kill a person in a matter of seconds. Some boat manufacturers have started putting catalectic convertors on the engines. It will take many, many years for them all to have them. Once they do, it will reduce the danger by about 90%. The U.S. Coastguard website is another place you can get some really good information, as well. Many people have been poisoned “teak surfing”, hanging onto the back of the boat as they go into shore. It is kind of like body surfing. It is fun, and people don’t realize the danger because they believe they are safe out in the open air. It will turn fun into tragedy in an instance. Boating is a great family activity, but people need to know how to be safe. Al Unser, Sr. the race car driver was poisoned from carbon monoxide from a boat. He said if anyone should know about carbon monoxide, he should, but he almost lost his life.

Thanks for the info, sorry about your granddaughter’s friend, Megan. I had no idea it was such a problem. I grew up around motors (boats, cars, bikes, etc) but never recall anything like these CO poisonings happening. Maybe it was filtered for me or simply not reported to the public as much as it is now.

At the very least, I’d have one of those portable CO detectors mounted nearby… ‘course, it might be constantly going off…

Thank you to Ms. Valencia and her family for allowing her organ(s) to be donated. Condolences to her family.

Very sad…. I would like to know the type of boat, and the details of how it happened. Were they skiing (stop and go) sitting with the motor on… Did the boat have a canvas top? It’s nice to know how, so I can be more aware.

CC, I would like to know the same information. If you find out anything, please post it. Thanks.

Sound like an attorney