Two elderly residents were found dead in their home in Latham after a concerned coworker called the Colonie Police Department asking officers to check on them.
At 11:36 a.m. on Thursday, June 26, police went to the home on Dove Court to check on John A. Lamena, 77, and Palma T. Nero, 82, and found them dead from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.
On Friday afternoon, June 27, following an autopsy at Albany Medical Center Hospital by Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard, it was confirmed the cause of death was ruled accidental.
Nero’s coworker called police after Nero didn’t show up for work at the state comptroller’s office and was not answering phone calls. Responding officers arrived at the home and found the doors to be locked and heard a car running in the garage. The garage door was hot to the touch, and fumes were detected coming from the garage. The Verdoy and Latham fire departments responded and forced entry into the home.
First responders quickly found Nero on the first floor and removed her from the home, but she was already deceased. Other fire department personnel found Lamena, who was deceased in a bedroom on the first floor.
Police say it appears Lamena started the car in the morning.
“It looks like he started the car that morning. We have people that put him in the driveway at 6:15 in the morning,” said Lt. Robert Winn of the Colonie Police Department.
Winn added that there was no sign of foul play, but he couldn’t say for sure what happened.
“We may never know exactly what transpired. We do know the vehicle was started and left running long enough to build up enough carbon monoxide in the house to kill them,” said Winn
Town of Colonie Fire Services conducted a test that indicated very high levels of carbon monoxide inside the home.
“Even after it was forced open and the fire department was venting it, the levels were still up to the point where a person would become incapacitated — at almost 2,000 parts per million — and that’s after the doors were opened,” said Winn.
Lamena was a retired history teacher from Shaker High School.